To successfully cross Antarctica, coast to coast, from McMurdo Sound to Berkner Island. This will be done solo, without any support whatsoever such as the use of dogs, kites and resupply.
In the Antarctic Summer of 2018 one man will be attempting what some believe to be impossible. It will be a journey that has never been completed and sits firmly at the edge of human endurance. Baz Gray has a passion for extreme cold weather environments and loves nothing more than to be immersed in amongst nature’s harshest conditions.
“It is here you come alive, survival instinct kicks in and the feeling is indescribable”
For 25 years Baz Gray has been living, learning, teaching and surviving in some of the most remote places on the planet. Now he will put himself to his ultimate test. Former Royal Marine Commando Baz will be attempting the solo, unsupported and unassisted crossing of the Antarctic continent from coast to coast. A journey of 1800 miles in a window of only 100 days. But it’s not just about him, it’s a journey of youth education and environmental understanding for our future. Come on board, get involved and support the journey!
Barry Gray is a Former Royal Marines Commando, Regimental Sergeant Major who has served his country for 26 Years all over the world. He has experienced operational tours of Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as many other major exercises deployed to some of the furthest and most remote areas on the planet.
The Royal Marines are the UK armed forces lead in all training that is delivered in a Mountainous and Extreme Cold Weather E nvironment for the entire Tri-Service military, it is very much their speciality and it is a skill that is unique in defence. This training is delivered by the very specialist Mountain Leader Branch, a very highly skilled, highly trained, fit and motivated group of men. Barry joined the Mountain Leader Branch in 1998 and went on to become the Chief Instructor, responsible for all Mountain and Cold Weather training.
Barry is a very skilled expeditionary mountaineer, he loves to tread new ground with minimal equipment but ensuring safety to himself and those he is with always takes the utmost priority.
“There is something very special about being somewhere extremely remote, where very few people have been before. No maps, guide books or previous notes makes the adventure so real, generates excitement and can be a constant thrill as well as extremely daunting”
Barry’s passion for the big outdoors started very early on in life, the type of child to be out of the house straight after breakfast and back in time for bedtime. Always out looking for an adventure whether that be at the top of a tree or the top of a Tor on the moors. Coming from a very military background it was almost inevitable that he would join the armed forces, but for him it had to be the Royal Marines which was by far the toughest physically and mentally to join with a gruelling eight months of basic training to overcome. But he did and he will be the first to tell you he did not thrive as a sixteen year old going through this process, it was tough and almost every day the thought of quitting would be buzzing around in his head.
Barry discovered very early on that he had the ability to switch off, knuckle down and just get through, it has made his career both as a Royal Marine and mountaineer that little easier to mentally handle. After seven or so years in the Royal Marines he decided to apply for and attempt the gruelling Mountain Leader course and never looked back, from this point on he has spent many months and years in extremely harsh places not just surviving but learning how to live work and thrive. His speciality is by far the colder environments, this is the toughest of environments to survive in and Barry loves it.
After many years teaching and being responsible for the all other instructors in the Royal Marines who teach these skills he has decided to move on. The Challenge Antarctica project has been on his mind for over 10 years but a career in the Royal Marines would never allow the time to prepare for something so big. The right time for this expedition for Barry is now, he has the experience, mental agility, physical ability and passion to take on such an undertaking.
Barry is also a very keen and passionate public speaker offering motivational talks or just pure interest lectures mainly on Polar History with the life of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton being a bit of a speciality. Educating children and going into schools is an area Barry particularly enjoys and regularly talks for Speakers 4 Schools. Feel free to get in touch via the website if you would like to book Barry for an event you are planning, you can read previous comments at the speakers tab.
Barry is married to Claire and has three children, Steven (20), George (18) and Mia (10), they live on the edge of Dartmoor near Yelverton and like nothing more than to take their German Shepard dog out for long walks.
Firstly, a huge thank you for taking the time to get this far, it is much appreciated. Please do read the following words, they are genuine and heartfelt.
I do love a challenge and over the years I have got steadily more adventurous with the Shackleton Epic re-enactment in 2013 being right up there. My next challenge tops even that and it has never been achieved.
Over two Antarctic Summer seasons I will attempt to be the first man to cross the entire Antarctic Continent from Coast to Coast, unsupported, unassissted and Solo.
My first season will be my run out with a 715 mile journey from Hercules inlet to the South Pole. This will be done as quickly as possible and give an opprtunity for the logistics teams and sponsors to understand me and my abilities to take on the bigger crossing 12 months later.
The second season will be the big one, 2019-2020 will see the journey increase to 1800 miles in only 100 days.
Well it is for many reasons and I will try to list them in as succinct a way as I can.
Those who know me well will know that I have spent many years raising as much money and awareness as I can for our forces both serving, veterans and their families alike. I have lost more friends to conflict than I care to mention and I have seen first hand the devastaion it has on all those who were part of their lives, expecially children. So, through my continued work with The Baton www.thebaton.co.uk and supporting the Royal Marines Charity www.theroyalmarinescharity.org.uk I will continue to do that. Issues caused by being involved in forces life due to conflict never go away and while I can, nor will I.
Children of military or service families are exposed to unique experiences, which may include; separation from a parent, frequent moving of house, caring for a sibling or parent, taking responsibility for the household or sudden deployment from a combat zone – all of which may impact on the way children lead their lives both now and in the future. The challenges each child or Service family face are different, however Service children who face regular moves from home and school can suffer high levels of anxiety and stress, also their health and their ability to learn may be disrupted especially when their parents are deployed to armed conflicts overseas. In addition, children with additional or complex health needs may find continuality of care a problem due to regular moves and may feel isolated or find it difficult to cope without the support from the extended family or local community networks.
The last 15 years has seen a rapid increase in the understanding of Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and our ability to recognise it then treat it has become better than ever. It is a serious issue facing all walks of life but in particular the forces community has been hit the hardest.
This is nothing new, it’s just better understood in today’s society. When we understand something and know it is wrong then we need to act.
Challenge Antarctica is acting and doing what it can to by using adventure and expeditions as inspiration to help children who have suffered due to forces life the worst types of stress and anxiety. The foundation will work with all the major forces charities, schools and government organisations to identify children that can utilise the facilities in the form of overseas adventure trips we will be setting up over the next two years. The fresh air and the great remote outdoors has an incredible effect on the human mind and when surrounded by the right people the benefits can be immeasurable to the point of turning a child’s life into a better brighter and clearer future; one of hope, courage and confidence.
I have also for many years used my knowledge and experiences to educate and speak in schools all over the UK and abroad, most recently in Gibraltar and Geneva. The children are our future and having the opportunity to be involed in their lives through what I do is truly humbling. The reaction from children when they learn about adventure and far flung parts of the planet is priceless and if I can be an inspiration to just a few of them it is worth it. A recent quote from one headmaster:
"Baz Gray’s visit to GES was truly inspirational. He enthralled us with stories of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration and with the courage and leadership skills of former explorers such as Ernest Shackleton. He was equally at ease speaking with our younger pupils and leading a workshop at GES Secondary. His visit has really captured the imagination of everyone at the school. Both children and staff are keen to embark on a number of interdisciplinary and cross-age projects through which we will discover more about the geography, ecology and wildlife of the fascinating continent of Antarctica. We can’t wait for Barry’s next visit later this term when he will tell us more about his preparation, training and equipment for the exciting expedition that lies ahead. We feel hugely privileged to be part of Challenge Antartica. As Baz said, fewer people have been to the South Pole than have been into Space, so this is a rare and exciting opportunity for us."
Teaching Children in a fun way and not being political is key. Gentle learning, in a way they don't realise they are learning is what it is all about. Learning about our environment and the importance of looking after it is another area I like to touch on regularly which leads me nicely onto
Ever since joining Tim Jarvis's 25Zero team www.25zero.com I have become increasingly aware of the effect global warming is having on the planet. 25Zero is about climbing 25 mountains at Zero lattitude which still have glaciers on them. In 25 years they could all be gone, starting with Carstenz Pyramid in Indonesia which was our first climb. The picture below was taken on the summit of Chimborazo 6300m.
When you are standing on something that actually melts you do not need a degree in glacialogy to point the fact out. Its important we look after the more pristine parts of our planet. We need to understand the past to look at the future and the single most important place to do that is in Antarctica.
Through Challenge Antarctica I will use my extreme expeditions to help discuss and highlight the extreme happenings on our planet.
If you have got this far I am truly humbled and I hope you can go onto support this project however you can, Donation, share, tweet etc.
There are so many people to already thank for supporting this project:
My wife Claire Gray, Mitesh Badiani, Jason Wilcocks, Laura Joint, Chris Lee, Keith Breslauer (Patron Capital), Andries Liebenberg (AmcoGriffen), Dean Burchell, Miles Coleman (China Fleet Country Club), Weslyan, Kevin Kelly, Fiona Brijnath (Arcturus), Ian Holdcroft (The Shackleton Company), The Masonic Lodge, Alex Preston, Jim Searight, Paul White, Ariel Navarro, Carl Day (Toshiba Tec), Trevor Parker (Satcase) and Alan Rowe to name but a few. (There are many more)
Why not join these incredible people that believe in this project, they can't all be wrong. In the long term this project will gove me the abilty to give so much back and to support so many more people.
All funding recieved will immediately go towards pulling this project together which I aim to undertake in the Antarctic Summers of Nov 2018-Jan 2019 and Nov 2019-Feb 2020.
Your good friend