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Adventurer from Wales is oldest person to reach South Pole unassisted

Y Ddraig Goch was seen flying at the South Pole possibly for the first time on Friday (January 19th 2024) as Welshman and former Royal Marines Commando Dave Thomas from Coelbren near Port Talbot, arrived exhausted but elated after a gruelling 1,180 km ski/sled haul, and became a new Guinness World Record holder.

At the age of 68 years and one month, he is the oldest person to have reached the geographic South Pole unassisted, beating the previous record by an impressive four years.

Dave, who had his 68th birthday just before Christmas on day 19 of the expedition, said: ‘’The 1,000km milestone five days’ earlier was a huge milestone for us emotionally. And although we knew then we were on the final push and we still had several days of hard hauling we doggedly stuck to our routine, we were determined to keep to our planned pace, and resist any temptation to try and sprint for the finishing line! It’s not been an easy feat but our Commando Spirit saw us through.”

Having been on the polar ice for 58 days battling some of the most extreme conditions on earth, the celebration also marked the end of Mission Spiritus Antarctica, a multi-faceted scientific expedition jointly undertaken with long-standing friend and fellow former Royal Marine Alan Chambers MBE.

The pair has also been fundraising for RMA – The Royal Marines Charity and have to date raised over £10,500 (inc Gift Aid).

2024 is the 360th Birthday of the Royal Marines so it was an especially poignant moment for them both as it marked, too, the end of Alan’s 30 years’ career in the polar environment.

They had set out from Hercules Inlet on 22nd November and ski-ed unassisted for 1,180km, each dragging a heavily laden sled with all their food, fuel and stores.

With challenging and ever-changing terrain and at the mercy of the full-on Antarctic summer with high winds, white-out conditions and temperatures around -24 degrees C with a wind chill of -42 degrees whilst crossing the polar plateau, they nevertheless experienced the worst conditions of the entire trip over the past few days closing in on the pole, the mental strain demanding precise concentration and careful planning on the task ahead.

Mission Spiritus Antarctica is multi-faceted polar scientific expedition undertaking research into the global impact of nano plastics on behalf of Columbia University Lamont. and the effects sensory deprivation has on the body in prolonged remote climates in conjunction with Manchester Met University.