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Baz Gray - Challenge Antarctica

THE MISSION

The first ever Solo Unsupported and Unassisted crossing of Antarctica 2019-2020

 

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!

BAZ GRAY BIO

 

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.

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 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. 

Why? 

Well it is for many reasons and I will try to list them in as succinct a way as I can. 

Forces Charities:

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.

Education:

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

The Environment:

 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

Baz Gray