Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Monday 12 February 2024

Sussex Adventurer Completes His Antarctic Charity Challenge

Josh Braid from Hurstpierpoint, in Sussex, spent December at the South Pole, in the footsteps of his Great Uncle, to raise vital funds for Rockinghorse Children's Charity and Kidscape.

Josh left the UK on 12th December, aiming to climb Mt Vinson (4,892m) in Antarctica and then pull a specially made rocking horse the last degree to the South Pole.

Josh, who works for Knight Frank, has been planning his challenge for around 10 years after being inspired by a similar trip that his Great Uncle made to the South Pole in 1961. He also wanted to support two local charities close to his heart.

In 2022, Josh and his wife welcomed twin boys, one who was cared for in the special care baby unit and the other who underwent an operation

It was during this time that he saw first-hand the work that Rockinghorse did and wanted to give even more back to the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton.

Kidscape is another charity that is close to his heart as he was bullied at school, something which he buried for over 25 years, but over the past few years, he has felt more confident being able to talk about his experience and help others.

This challenge saw Josh arrive in Chile on 15th December and then take a four-hour flight across Drake's Passage, with incredible views of the icebergs below, landing at the main base camp at Union Glacier before preparing for the next stage of his expedition.

Even at this early stage in the trip, Josh was amazed by his surroundings: 

"The scenery coming into land was like another planet, and we had to be careful not to slip over on the blue ice runway."

To get to Mt Vinson, his first challenge, Josh took another 40-minute flight to base camp in the Ellsworth mountain range, with even more amazing scenery of stunning ice flowing over the mountains.

After a couple of rest days, the group left the base camp on 21st December, pulling their 20kg sledges up to 2,900m and arriving at Low Camp nine hours later. 

After a rest day, the group reduced their kit to 15kg rucksacks and ascended the 1,000m roped section up to High Camp. 

This part of the climb normally takes between 4-6 hours, but due to some severe altitude sickness, it ended up taking over 10 hours.

However, despite the challenges, including -38 degree temperatures, the group finally arrived at the summit of Mt Vinson after climbing to the 4,892m peak at 7.03pm on 24th December – a great place to spend Christmas Eve! Josh described the scene: 

"It was an incredible view of endless white iced mountains in all directions with a gentle breeze but sunny blue skies.

"The 24-hour daylight meant that the mountain could be climbed at any time of the day, and it was such a privilege to stand on top of Antarctica's highest mountain with just my team. 

"It was like standing on another planet miles from any permanent human settlement."

Once they climbed down the mountain, the group spent a day repacking and sorting climbing equipment before a gap in the weather allowed for the planes to arrive and take them back to Union Glacier.

Then it was on to the next part of the challenge, skiing to the South Pole.

After flying 89 degrees south of the Pole and preparing all their kit, the group made a start, skiing around 5km on the first day at an altitude of around 3,000m. 

Dragging his Rockinghorse branded rocking horse behind him, Josh and his team gradually worked their way up to skiing around 20km a day and on day seven, they saw a few dots on the horizon, around 25km away – the South Pole!

Josh said:

"This was such a boost to morale that we were in touching distance of the South Pole. 

"By the end of the day, the Pole was less than 10 km and to celebrate I decided to have snow bath in -20 degrees only lasting a few minutes before heading back into the warmth of the tent!"

On the final day, they woke up at 4:ooam, excited to finally reach the Pole. Stopping at the ALE South Pole camp, just 500m from the Geographical South Pole, they enjoyed a delicious, cooked breakfast before skiing the final meters to their destination.

Josh described the moment:

"It was such an incredible feeling to have realised a dream, that started when I became fascinated with photos of my Norwegian Great Uncle over 10 years earlier. 

"To stand at a point on Earth where every direction is North and a location stepped in history from the early polar explorers of Amundsen and Scott having stood there 113 years earlier, was such a privilege."

Now that Josh is back home, he hopes to continue his fundraising, even planning to auction off Rocky the rocking horse to the highest bidder. 

To make a donation, head over to his charity donation platform Givestar to help support these two charities and help Josh reach his fundraising goal.

To find out more about Rockinghorse, take a look at their website at www.rockinghorse.org.uk and for more information on Kidscape, just visit www.kidscape.org.uk.

by: Mike Cobley




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