Photo Credit: Lewis Clarke
Photo Courtesy of www.youngesttosouthpole.wordpress.com
On January 18, 2014, Lewis Clarke became the youngest person ever to trek overland from the Antarctic coast (Hercules Inlet) to the South Pole. The 16-year old skied over 1,120 km in 48 days and he faced harsh conditions, temperatures nearing -50 C and winds of up to 193 km/h. But he wasn’t new to adventure. When he was only 12-years old, Lewis was part of the youngest relay team to successfully swim the English Channel.
Lewis Clarke is the first adventurer I had to wait to interview because he was still writing his exams. I wanted to know what would motivate today’s teen to venture outside of the virtual world and to risk himself to help people in need. Lewis points to timely advice from mentors, family support, and a focus on what truly matters. He also shared a simple, three-step formula for achieving something incredible. It was worth the wait! —Tracy
Why the South Pole? Can you remember the first time you thought, “I want to do this”?
When I was doing my Channel relay swim one of the people who ended up helping out had actually walked to the South Pole, his name is Jon Bradshaw. I just talked to him about it and it sounded like a truly amazing thing to do. Having finished the Channel relay I just really wanted to do something else, and the idea was already in my head. All of which happened very soon after the 2010 Channel swim, early 2011.
What did you tell yourself during the moments it seemed too difficult?
I just remembered the enormous effort that myself, my family and my friends had put in to get me there, it was the last of a long series of hurdles and I was sure that I wasn’t going to fail right at the last.
Has the experience changed your perspective about life?
Absolutely, it puts everything far more in perspective and made me care more about the things that really matter, like family and friendship, and worry less about the more pointless things people usually worry about.
Do you feel more kids and teens could benefit from being more adventurous? Why?
Definitely, if only to get more real freedom earlier on in life. It doesn’t matter how big or small the expedition is, just do it. It builds confidence and skills, and teaches young people to be more self-sufficient. I believe that young people have the same ability as anyone else to doing amazing things, but might often feel that they can’t until they are older. You only need 3 things to achieve something incredible: 1) Inspiration, 2) Drive and 3) Support. Young people have just as much drive, and have been inspired, just the same as adults, but people seem to have less belief that young people can achieve. I hope that my expedition and other young people achieving great things will help dispel that feeling.
Why did you choose to support the Prince’s Trust?
They are a charity that specifically help young people. I really liked the idea of helping my peers and I’m going to visit the scheme that my fundraising went towards, which will be a fantastic opportunity to see the good my fundraising has done.
What did you learn about fundraising for the Prince’s Trust before, during, and after the expedition?
The fundraising was best actually during the expedition, when people could be told about all the stuff I was doing. We raised a fantastic £4,000.
What is one tip you would give other adventure fundraisers?
I would say get as many people involved as possible and think up as many different ideas as possible for raising money. The reason I managed to raise so much was because loads of people chipped in to help, my junior school had a fundraising event, my dad went around his work collecting donations, and I did a talk and we had an auction to raise even more money, as well as online donations and various other ways of raising money.
What’s going to be your next adventure?
I plan to canoe the Yukon River in Canada, which is 2,000 miles long. I won’t be going for any record, but it should be a more relaxed expedition than the South Pole, and definitely warmer!
Would you finish this sentence for me? “One person can…”
One person can do anything. As simple as that, no matter who you are if you are inspired, driven and have support, the sky is the limit.