Adventurer returns to hero welcome
Young Suffolk adventurer Patrick Woodhead found himself has returned in triumph after he conquered South Pole in record time.The 27-year-old and his three best pals dreamt up the madcap idea of skiing and kiting to the South Pole over a pint – Now back home in Bury St Edmunds, he said: "It's very lonely when the plane flies off and you are left standing in the middle of such an extraordinary landscape, miles away from any kind of life at all.
Young Suffolk adventurer Patrick Woodhead found himself has returned in triumph after he conquered South Pole in record time.
The 27-year-old and his three best pals dreamt up the madcap idea of skiing and kiting to the South Pole over a pint –
Now back home in Bury St Edmunds, he said: "It's very lonely when the plane flies off and you are left standing in the middle of such an extraordinary landscape, miles away from any kind of life at all."
Patrick's parents Jenny and Stuart Woodhead were extremely pleased to welcome him back to Bury.
Jenny said: "He's done amazingly well and we are very proud of him. It's nice to see him looking so well. I wasn't sure whether he'd be emaciated with fingers and toes missing from frostbite.
"We did get emails every day from his base camp and could text message him so we knew he was safe."
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The four did not see even see a single penguin on their 700-mile trek to the Pole, across the world's coldest continent. Fewer than 100 people have ever completed the journey to the bottom of the planet.
Patrick's crew reached their destination in 45 days and six hours, smashing the previous speed record of 47 days, set by a Chilean team.
One of the team, Tom Avery, a ski holiday firm director, at just a month younger than Patrick, broke the world record for the youngest person ever to trek to the South Pole. Tom's title was snatched, just six days later by 23-year-old Nottingham scout leader Andrew Cooney.
Patrick and Tom were joined by Canadian Paul Landry, 45 and Andrew Gerber, 28, a South African.
They had intended to follow Scott's exact route to the Pole to mark the centenary of his first Antarctic expedition but it proved impossible. Instead the team set off from the Hercules Inlet in the Chilean Antarctic in mid-November.
They endured temperatures of –30C and winds averaging 30 miles an hour, dragging sledges weighing more than 150lbs.
Despite the punishing conditions, Patrick said the trip was far less miserable than he had imagined.
The friends even managed to rustle up some rice pudding and a tot of whisky on Christmas Day.
They consumed 6,000 calories a day during the gruelling trek, skiing and kiting for up to 14 hours at a time. With only 46 miles to go, the group skied for 35 hours continuously to reach the Pole.
Patrick, who works as a freelance television producer, added: "You soon get the hang of it and get on with the job in hand. For me there was an amazing number of highs. Kiting was fantastic, we could do 29 miles a day, compared with 18 or 19 on skis and we burned far fewer calories.
"It was an incredible experience. Seeing the sun reflected through ice crystals was absolutely beautiful. It is the last true wilderness and it was very exciting to be there.
"On the other hand, 45 days is a long time. It was very relentless and you couldn't stop and warm up inside. There were days when you aren't feeling well and the clouds come down and you can't tell which way you are facing.
"When you are with three really good mates, they help you keep your sense of humour intact."
Patrick, who studied Ancient History at Bristol University, is now looking forward to recuperating in the warmer climes of Cape Town, staying with his girlfriend Robyn Garratt and writing a book about his adventures.