Youngest to the South Pole – Press Release (January 19th 2014)

British teenager breaks South Pole World Record

After a  48 Day, 702 mile journey from the Antarctic Coast to the South Pole, 16 year old Lewis Clarke, from Bristol, arrived at the South Pole at 3pm local time (6pm GMT) on Saturday 18th January 2014, setting a new World Record for the youngest person ever to do it (the current world record holder is an 18 year old Canadian). 

Teenager Lewis Clarke set out on his epic expedition from Hercules Inlet on the Antarctic coast on December 2nd 2013, just 2 weeks after his 16th birthday. After 48 gruelling days travelling across one of the most inhospitable environments on earth, in temperatures as low as minus 40 and gale force winds of up to 60mph, Lewis has become the youngest person in the world to ski the full 702 miles from coast to Pole, on the well established Hercules Inlet route.

Lewis was guided by experienced polar guide, Carl Alvey.  They travelled on skis, pulling all their own supplies, but received 3 re-supplies during the expedition. There have been many ups and downs, from white outs and blizzards to Lewis breaking a ski. They had only one full day off (on Christmas Day) during the 48 day expedition. They usually skied around 8 or 9 hours a day, covering roughly 18 miles daily. Their last day, Saturday 18th January, was a very tough one, with the lowest temperatures of the whole trip (around minus 50 degrees C including windchill).

Reaching the South Pole from the Antarctic coast is one of the toughest challenges in the world, one that’s only ever been completed by around 300 people (in contrast, over 3000 have climbed Mt. Everest). The South Pole was first conquered by Norwegian Roald Amundsen in December 1911. The heroic Captain Scott arrived a month later (on January 17th  1912) to discover he had been beaten to it, and he and his 4 comrades tragically died on the way back. Ernest Shackleton set out on his equally heroic expedition in August 1914.

Lewis Clarke

Ski trekking 700 miles to the South Pole is a seriously challenging goal for anyone, let alone a 16 year-old. But Lewis Clarke already has world record breaking experience. In 2010 he led five other 12 year-old Bristol school children to become the youngest relay team ever to swim the English Channel. He is a pupil at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School, Bristol, and is using this Antarctic expedition to raise money for the Prince’s Trust (founded by Prince Charles to help disadvantaged young people). Lewis also plans a series of post expedition talks/presentations later in 2014 (anniversary year of Ernest Shackleton’s heroic Antarctic Expedition), designed to inform and inspire other young people.

Lewis and his family have been planning the expedition for 3 years. He began a tough training regime a year ago, beginning with a 2 week polar training course on Norway’s Hardanger Plateau (Feb ‘13), where Amundsen trained for his successful Polar exploit. Lewis then completed a full expedition on the Greenland coast (April ’13). Then there was months of tyre pulling (the best simulation for pulling the weighty ‘pulk’ over the ice) on Bristol’s famous ‘Downs’, and in windswept Weston-super-Mare a few miles away. When he gets back, it’ll be time to knuckle down and get ready for his GCSE’s in the summer!!

The World Record

There are a number of ‘youngest’ achievements on the record books. Lewis has beaten each one of them.

  1. Youngest to ski the full 700 miles, coast to pole, Hercules Inlet route (same route Lewis has taken): 2004, SARAH MCNAIR LANDRY, CANADIAN, AGED 18 (dob 9.5.86)
  2. Youngest to ski partial journey to the pole, 112 miles (flown to start): 2011, AMELIA HEMPLEMAN ADAMS, AGED 16 (dob 1.6.95)
  3. Youngest man to ski short route (314 miles) from coast to pole: 2013, PARKER LIATAUD, AGED 19 (dob 12.8.94).

Other key dates in January 2014

16th January: Lewis spoke to friends and classmates at QEH School, Bristol, via satellite ‘phone (FILMED BY BBC LOCAL AND NATIONAL NEWS)

23rd January: Lewis is due to return to the UK (Heathrow, 1.15PM)

25th January: Lewis is due to headline the ‘Adventure Travel Show’ (now in its 18th year) at Olympia, London. Lewis’ talk is at 1015AM, immediately before Sir Ranulph Fiennes at 11AM.

 Lewis has many supporters. Jonathon Bradshaw, who trekked to the South Pole as part of the first Irish team to do so, in 2007/2008; TV historian Dan Snow has been assisting with fund raising; Bristol’s Films at 59 is helping with technical filming support. And many friends, family, school mates, parents and others have generously donated. Lewis’ Sponsors include: Bristol Children’s Orthopaedic Group; Pegasus Group; Taunton Leisure; BS7 Gym; and Cook.  

More information on Lewis’ web site:

Press enquiries to Steven Clarke on: or 0771 867 9848

To any press who want photographs please contact SWNS (South West News Service): Bristol head office +44 (0)117 9066500


If possible, please communicate the fact that we are still fund raising for the charity Lewis is supporting, THE PRINCE’S TRUST

Donations can be made on-line via

(search for ‘Lewis Clarke’, Youngest to South Pole)






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: