Polar ski challenge dad hopes to break South Pole record

James Redden
James Redden

A former soldier from Thame is to attempt to become the fastest person to ski solo to the South Pole.

James Redden, 46, will embark on an unsupported and unaided 700-mile ski to the Geographic South Pole.

James Redden map

James Redden map

The father of two has accepted a challenge thrown down by the current world record holder, Norway’s Christian Eide, to beat his journey time of 24 days, I hour and 13 minutes, set in 2011.

By undertaking the North by South challenge, which starts on December 4 from Hercules Inlet, James will also be raising awareness and funds for two UK charities, Meningitis Now and Soundabout.

James said: “The journey will be brutal and includes a climb from sea level to about 3,000 metres. Only 26 people in the world have taken on this challenging adventure where temperatures can dip as low as minus 40c with wind speeds of up to 80mph.”

On average James will ski for 12 hours each day, burning 6,000 calories and tow all his own food and equipment.

Adventurer James is no stranger though to mental and physical challenges. His journeys have taken him from the jungles of South East Asia, through the Sahara desert, along the African continent and into South America. He’s skied large distances across Norway and in April last year skied to the Geographic North Pole.

Now, with training in full swing, James is planning to meet up with Christian Eide in Oslo to learn from his experience about the conditions to expect and the best route to take to the Pole.

This latest expedition will feature a world-first collaboration with Microsoft to track heart rate, calories burned, distance travelled and GPS waypoints each day.

James will also be taking questions and answering them via satellite call. Audio updates will be posted on Soundcloud. To ensure he stays connected James will be taking an Iridium 9575 satellite phone and an Iridium GO! satellite wi-fi hotspot, allowing him to check in, access social media, share photos and keep everyone updated - despite being in one of the most remote locations in the world.

James added: “The journey will be long and lonely. There will be no resupplies and no equipment like snow scooters but the beauty of the polar landscape and the good causes inspiring me will drive me forward.”

James has chosen to support Meningitis Now and Soundabout because they have both supported his friend Nikki Kelly and her family. Nikki’s son Toby had meningitis and is living with the after-effects.

The charities will also be launching a competition to design a flag, which will be flown out for James to unfurl when he reaches the South Pole.

Tom Nutt, chief executive at Meningitis Now, and Mark Smyth, chief executive at Soundabout said: “What an unforgettable adventure James is undertaking. We wish him well and thank him for all his efforts to raise funds and awareness for us.

“As two small charities we rely on the energy and enthusiasm of our supporters for the funds we need to carry out our vital support work.”