H: Hello and welcome to the Lifestyle Show, my name is Murray Norton. Now I guess at some point this year you’ll be planning another holiday, a week in the Med, a weekend in Jersey. Perhaps something exotic, you’re off to Thailand or the Caribbean. How about this then, take 11 months off and do 12,000 miles or thereabouts, probably a bit longer – 22,000 actually, that far! That’s exactly what my two guests are going to be doing for the next 11 months. I don’t envy you because it’s going to be extremely tough because they’re not going to be using any modern transport, everything is natural and carbon-free, and to find out more about that I’m delighted to say the two people who are going to be doing this, experienced explorers by now at the ender age of 19, we’ve got Rob Gauntlett as well and we’ve got James Hooper, good to have you both with us, thanks for joining us. This is an extraordinary challenge that you’re going to be doing, you both are involved, or have been involved in climbing Everest, in fact the youngest westerners to do that, is that right?
J: Yes that’s correct, yes we did that – we actually started on May 17th last year
H: so that makes you the youngest westerners to do that.
J: Yes yes it was a wonderful experience, it really was great.
H: We will talk a little bit more about that in just a couple of minutes time. But if anyone has any questions whatsoever for the boys all they’ve got to do is – that little box at the bottom there, just fill it out now and you can ask your questions away because where they’re going to be going is Pole to Pole, from north to south, and we’ll find out exactly which route they’re taking in just a few minutes. Before we do all of that, how did you get into all of this because I always think of explorers as being slightly beardy and a little bit older, and you’re not, so what happened, did it start with a camping trip or something?
R: Well for us we were actually on a train on the way back from a cycling trip and we were just thumbing through a newspaper and we came across an article about Mount Everest and having not done any climbing whatsoever at all, we decided that actually it is possible for us to lay out a schedule and set ourselves out some training and actually achieve this goal of becoming the youngest Brits to do it, and over a period of 3 years we climbed in Pakistan, in the Alps, in Scotland and obviously Nepal as well and we just really really followed our dreams and made it happen
H: You two have got to be good mates to be able to do this because you’ve got to put up with each other with the highs and lows
J: Yes well we’ve been mates for 9 years now actually we went to school together, and it really does help. I mean there’s times when we annoy each other and there’s times when it can get a bit boring on trips because we know exactly what each other have done for the past 9 years so there’s not much new stuff to talk about, but at the same time it’s obviously really great for support and everything else, you know, the fact that if I’m feeling down or if Rob’s feeling down the other one can just say come on, we’re going to get through today and then tomorrow it’s going to be better
H: Well before we talk about Pole to Pole, which is the new trek, let’s have a look back at some of the things that did happen to you, the highs and the very much the lows of Everest and that trek
“I’ve managed to pick up a cold”
“I’m surprised the camera can’t pick up how badly I smell at the moment”
“Bit of a wake-up call as to how dangerous it really is up there”
“I am pretty shattered up here”
H: Well as you can see it had its highs and it had its lows. An extraordinary adventure, is it 29,029 feet or has it gone up or down a bit since then?
J: That’s the kind of now accepted measurement which was taken by the USGS quite recently, 29,035 feet so
H: There’s not many chances I get to ask someone what it feels like to be on top of the world – so what does it feel like guys?
R: I have to say it felt absolutely exhausting when we got there and I was expecting it to be wonderful and expecting to feel great, but in reality I’ve got this massive great oxygen mask on which I just wanted to pull off and breathe air, there’s just not enough oxygen in the air at all so –
R: I lost 3 stone on the expedition and when you’re right on the top of Mount Everest you can just look down and everywhere below you is obviously lower and just the views are phenomenal
H: You can’t be up there for very long then?
J: Well in actual fact we were on the summit for about an hour and three quarters which is a huge –
H: That’s not bad
J: Huge amount of time to spend on the summit. Most people maybe spend 10 or 20 minutes up there, we kind of got there and we were so tired we sat down, and it was about 7.30 in the morning when we arrived and the sun had just risen and it was the most amazing view, and we just kind of lost track of time, and all of a sudden someone said “oh we should probably go back down now, we’ve been here for ages” and we looked at our watches and realized we’d been there almost 2 hours and thought we should probably get a really quick move down because you know the oxygen was going to start running out, so –
H: The thing is, once you’ve done that – where do you go from there? I guess Pole to Pole is the next thing really isn’t it?
R: Well that’s what we felt, I mean we got back from Everest base camp and we’re thinking to ourselves, you know literally looked at each other and said what can we do next?
R: And we certainly felt as though we needed something back in our lives, and we came up this idea which was an expedition which no one had done before, and that was just a massive motivation, finding something which is new, it’s literally 4 expeditions rolled into one, and going from the north pole to the south pole over all that terrain, just seemed like an ideal situation to highlight our two messages of climate change and trying to get other young people to do – to get out there and follow their own dreams as well
H: Going to look at the climate change in just a second, if you go from the north pole to the south pole, you can do that by any segment of the orange really can’t you, and you could have gone through Europe, you could have gone through Siberia, you could have gone Australasia, but you’ve taken a route which will take you where exactly?
J: Well the route which we’re taking will take us through north and South America. I mean what we’re going to do we’re going to start at the north pole and then pull sled to about 1000 miles down the west coast of Greenland till we get to the edge of the Ice Pack, and there we’ll meet a yacht and we’ll sail down to New York harbor. When we get to New York we’ll get on the bikes and that’s when we’ll cycle 12,000 miles, all the way down through north and South America down to the tip of South America
H: That’s going to be interesting
J: It is, I mean that will be amazing, all the cultural stuff, I mean it will just be cool. Then we get on the yacht and then that’s when we start sailing again and locate find and get to the south pole, and finish off by sailing up into Sydney for a big party, so it really will be an awesome trip and we’re really looking forward to it
H: It is, I mistakenly said 12,000 miles, that’s the cycling, 22,000 miles altogether
H: 11 months, that’s an amazing amount of time. Questions coming in, Sally wants to know first of all what made you attempt such an amazing trek as this?
R: Well I think it was an obvious move from Everest
R: We had to find something in ourselves which we wanted to do which was perhaps longer, but most importantly something that hadn’t been done before, so many of the, so many parts of the world have been explored and expeditions have gone ahead, and you know Everest has been climbed on a number of occasions, but with 180 degrees it’s completely unfounded ground, and a lot of the arctic section hasn’t actually been traveled before so it’s going to be very very exciting
H: In terms of the different things you’re doing all the way through all of this, they all have one common theme, you’re not using motorized transport?
J: No no I mean we wanted to really make sure this trip was as green as possible, I mean firstly the fact that we’re not using motorized transport, it makes it, the first time that anyone will have ever attempted to do it not using motorized transport, so that was the big motivation for us to try it, but equally we want to use the fact that we are doing it that way to raise green awareness and I mean for instance we’ve had to put this start date of the expedition back by 10 days because simply where we’re starting at the north pole, they’re just isn’t ice there at the moment and that’s unheard of, there’s a great big bit of open water, and so we’re going to have to try and wait for a few more days so that hopefully it will freeze over and then we can start, but I mean it’s just, what’s great about this, it allows us to show people what is happening in the world today. It allows us to use case studies, and equally hopefully try and get people to realize what small things they can do to make a difference
H: The environmental question that’s come in from Sam is “how important is this trip to be environmentally friendly?” I guess it would have been a lot easier – not easy – but a lot easier just to have got on a motorized skidoo and then got on a motor boat and then got on trains or whatever, and that could be done?
R: Well the environmental side is fundamental to the whole expedition, in our view, our two messages, without those two messages there’d be no point in doing the expedition, so what we’re really trying to do is prove to people that perhaps the 5 mile commute they make to work is a lot easier than they might think and that individually, if we all make a small effort, it makes a big difference in the bigger picture
H: What came first, the idea of the trek or the environmental carbon footprint or no carbon footprint?
J: We’ve both been interested in kind of green issues for quite a while
J: And we’ve been very conscious of them through our other expeditions, and when we were thinking about what we could do next and we came up with this expedition, one of the reasons why we thought about it was simply because of the opportunity it allows us to raise awareness for this issue, and the two seemed to just fit perfectly hand-in-hand and we just thought it was a great opportunity firstly to try and do something which hasn’t done before, which hasn’t been done before and secondly to try and really make people aware of these issues
H: This sort of trip doesn’t come cheap because you’ve got to get there, you’ve got to fund yourself, you’ve got to eat, you’ve got to have the transport systems you’ve got, be they bikes or sailing or whatever, sledge – so you’re either millionaires or someone else has helped you out on this?
R: Yes I mean we’ve been very fortunate so far with our association with Adidas, they’ve been massively supportive of what we’re doing
H: How did that happen because it seems great that all of a sudden this sports company, great sports company comes in and says you know what guys, we’ll help you out
R: Well it was actually a very very strange encounter in a bar in London when we literally bumped into the guys at Adidas, we were showing a presentation to one of our sponsors of Everest and we only just managed to find the money for Everest, only a year ago, and because we – previously we’d been able to pay for the expeditions ourselves through working on local projects at home, but this is completely different level, it’s massive massive types of organization, we’ve got an expedition manager, we’ve got people working on our behalf in trying to build a website, trying to get the logistics in place – it’s a massive project, and it cost a lot of money and we’ve been very very fortunate in the funding that we’ve received from Adidas and their support so far
H: I know they’ve even put you into a fantastic advert campaign that’s going out at the moment, you’re involved in that as well – tell us about this?
J: Well what’s really great about that is Adidas have a slogan, “Impossible is nothing” – and it fits in very closely with what we believe. You know when they saw us kind of giving this presentation in this bar to one of our sponsors, they saw it and they said look guys come in, we’re really interested in that we want to talk to you about the fact you know we’ve got this slogan which we want to publicise, and you guys seem to be doing all the right kind of things and basically they told us that they were shooting an advert which was including this “impossible is nothing” theme, in fact based around it and they said look we’d love to do an advert on you, and hopefully because you’re only 19 that will help you to be able to get across to young people, and we really believe that it allows us to take our message across, I mean we want to inspire other young people that whatever it is that they want to do, whether they’re interested in music or drama, athletics, academia, whatever it is, we want them to know that they really can achieve anything they want to if they just put their mind to it
H: Now they’ve got, obviously you two very young good looking guys, and then they’ve got some ugly mug called David Beckham to spoil it all, I mean what happened here?
R: Well it was actually, it was a real honour to meet David, we went out to Madrid to meet him and do the advert and he’s just a really inspiring guy, when we were growing up as teenagers – we still are – and you know he was captain of the England football team
R: And he’s just such an icon for so many people
H: So in the series of adverts, you’re in one, he’s in another – how cool is this?
R: Yes it’s fantastic, couldn’t get much better really
H: Ok, I know we’ve got some footage actually of the making of it all, so what actually happened, you went out to Madrid and filmed some of this or –
J: Yes, yes we were in Madrid and we kind of, they took us to this warehouse space which they’d set up to do the adverts and basically it’s based on a, based on – because apparently Muhammed Ali used to, when people asked him questions he used to draw the answer on a napkin, and this is what inspired Adidas to run this campaign, and it’s all about drawing characters and using them to illustrate, illustrate impossibles and so there’s kind of footage of us drawing things and doing lots of art, I mean it’s really quite surreal, it feels like you’re back in kind of you know, 4 year old art class
H: You’ve kept those napkins haven’t you?
J: It was such good fun, it really was, just to take things back to a really simple level and it really illustrates it well I feel
H: Ok, let’s take a look at that
“We’re on a train on our way back from the Lake District and we’re just reading through a newspaper article about Everest. We were 16 at the time and we just sort of looked at each other and said why not? I thought if I go about it the right way, and look at the steps to get there, then it’s definitely achievable. Everyone we spoke to just laughed in our face about this dream, people were just saying it’s never going to happen guys, you’ve got to wait at least another 10 years, then you might be ready to do it. We were using that negative influence as motivation, and ultimately climbing’s about being roped together and all the time entrusting each others lives.
We were both aware that there was a 25% chance that one of us wouldn’t come back”
“It’s minus 40 degrees, you’re constantly thinking that if I drop my glove then I’m going to get frostbite and the chances are I’m going to pass away. You’re walking about a bridge where it’s a mile drop either side”
“And you’re just climbing further and further into the darkness, getting further and further away from safety”
“You’re halfway up and you’re gasping for breath and you think how am I possibly going to make it to the top of this and Rob just said look just remember why we’re here, think about our families, our friends, the team back at home who’ve put everything into it to get us here and you know that’s really the motivating factor, and then you end up on your summit view”
“You finally get there, you’ve run out of land and that’s it, you’re on the summit of Everest. Clear skies all around you can actually see the curvature of the earth, looking down everywhere below you is just the most phenomenal feeling, but at the same time I was really really worried because I knew in the back of my mind that 80% of the accidents happen on the way down.”
“The most sobering thing for me was actually walking over the legs of a guy that we’d become friends with at base camp who’d died a few days earlier, and you question whether it’s worth being there at all or not.”
“You really have to be very alert and I fell asleep several times on the way back down, but James kind of woke me up.”
“I kept on having this image in my mind of one of the people that I’d seen that had died, and I kept on saying I just don’t want to end up like that.”
“One foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other, and if you just keep on putting one foot in front of the other you’re going to get to where you need to be.”
“And so for me having two of us there worked really well, you know we’ve got a great friendship and it’s so important in those kind of types of conditions. And now Pole to Pole. The plan is to be the first people ever to travel from the North Pole to the South Pole entirely under human and natural power.”
“It just makes you realize doing a small thing like this how huge this trip’s going to be.”
“It’s a massive expedition and it’s 22,000 miles long. It will take 11 months. When we go from the North Pole it will be the equivalent of doing 40 marathons back-to-back and then when we cycle down through the Americas, that’s 12,000 miles of cycling. I mean that’s the great thing about it is the fact that you’re taken through so many different places, climates, cultures and that’s really exciting.”
“For the pair of us it’s this burning desire to always push the boundaries. Everyone has their own Everest and it’s important, you’ve got to pursue it and find it and make sure you climb it.”
“You can choose something which initially feels impossible and by breaking it down into achievable goals all of a sudden anything becomes possible.”
H: Well it looks like a fantastic advert and a great experience. Not as great an experience as doing the whole thing itself. If you’ve just joined us where the heck have you been? We’ve got Rob and James with us and they’re doing 22,000 miles Pole to Pole as a trek, being sponsored by Adidas for it and they’re going to – this is going to be probably the biggest headlines when this is going on and going through. Are you prepared for all that side of it because obviously a great deal of people round the world are going to be watching you very closely while you’re doing this?
J: Yes I mean that’s a big thing for us, what we really want to do is use that publicity to get people involved in the journey, and we actually have a website which is www.180degrees.com and we really want to get people onto that website
H: Presumably they can follow you whilst you’re doing it?
J: Yes I mean every single day there’ll be video clips, pod casts, pictures, bits of text uploaded all the time to get people so they’re able to see the places where we are, they’re able to understand the issues that we’re facing and hopefully we’re able to gain some of the kind of experiences that we are and learn about global warming and climate change, and about other issues, you know general geographical issues, and so on
H: Ok so plenty of knowledge there, and incidentally if you’re watching this at the moment there’s a little link at the bottom there, to go directly to that website so all you’ve got to do is click at the bottom and you’re straight onto it anyway. Put it into your favourites because you’re going to need that for the next 11 months or so. As far as the training’s concerned for this, you’re leaving on the 20th March
R: That’s right
H: That’s not long now guys, so I suggest you start getting some training in at some point! Presumably you’ve been doing some for some time?
R: We have yes we’ve been training pretty intensively pretty much ever since we came back with the idea from Everest, it’s actually only last Friday when we got back from Greenland, we’ve been training minus 35 conditions to prepare ourselves for the absolute extreme temperatures in the Arctic
H: It’s going to be everything from minus 50 to plus 50 isn’t it, that’s just about the gauge you’ll be looking it?
R: That’s right we’ll be looking at a temperature range of about 100 degrees. But it’s interesting even out in Greenland at the moment, global warming is evident all around there, it’s such a sensitive area, the sea ice which is normally right down to the bottom of Greenland is actually retracting at a massive rate and is open leads of water which we’ve been practicing to overcome as well so
H: It’s quite depressing really isn’t it?
J: It is, it is and –
R: It’s staggering
J: Something has to be done about these issues and I think that you know us and our generation in particular are the people that have to take, you know tackle those issues head on, and there’s so many little things that everyone can do, I mean for instance you’d be surprised at how much carbon dioxide emissions it actually saves if you just unplug your phone charger while you’re not using it, and it’s such a simple thing to do and overall it saves tons you know if 10 people do that that is a really significant –
H: I might just go out and do mine now! Feeling guilty already. Ivan’s got a question, we’ve got lots of questions coming in so thank you very much indeed for those, a little box at the bottom, fill it out, we’ve only got about 10 minutes left. Ivan wants to know “is this an impossible journey?” That’s a tough question because you don’t actually know, it’s not been done
J: I mean some people have said it’s impossible but I mean what we believe is, like the Adidas strapline that “impossible is nothing” you know impossible is nothing, if you can, if you have the self-belief, if you have the passion and if you’re willing to break things down into step-by-step chunks you really can achieve anything and that’s what we believe for Everest and that’s what we’re believing for this.
H: I can see why the two things go very well, the company and yourselves. Ben wants to know “what’s the biggest challenge you think you’re going to face?”
R: Well I think for me the thing I’m most concerned about is I suppose, the question is, is the Arctic, and for that reason the open sections of water which we’re going to have to cross can be pretty wide, and when the water temperature is about minus two you’ve got to be extremely careful, anything can go wrong
H: Yes. In terms of safety what are the safety procedures you go through, have you got people alongside you or are you just out there on your own or –
J: I mean we’re out there by ourselves, I mean obviously the safest time for us is probably in the US, I mean that’s the time when we’re closest to rescue as it were, but equally there’s lots of dangers, I mean there’s actual personal safety issues kind of through central and south America, and obviously cycling round these busy roads and stuff, but that’s probably the least of our worries, when you’re in the southern ocean you’re literally thousands of miles from anywhere, and that’s when if something goes wrong you’re weeks away from rescue
H: You’ve got 12,000 miles on a bike as well – that is tough
J: That is going to be pretty tough
H: Because that’s day after day after day and it’s not just the legs, it’s the bit that fits into the saddle that can be a bit interesting…
R: That’s what I’m slightly worried about, I have to admit –
H: Numbness is something that I think us guys should talk about at a later time! But actually what you will find is the numbness between your fingers, have you found that already, vibrations?
R: Yes on the wrist as well. We’ve done some pretty long cycles before but –
H: Ok we’ve got some more questions coming through, plenty of questions so we’ll go through these as quickly as we can, Luke wants to know “how do you keep yourself going when you’re thinking about quitting?”
J: That – I mean that’s an interesting one that – on Everest for instance I was just thinking, all the time I was thinking can I make up a decent excuse that means no one will blame me for stopping?
H: A nice cop out?
J: Yes basically I mean and all the time I was thinking can I, can I, can I? And it’s at those moments when you really just have to think look I’m here for a reason, I’m here because I’m trying to achieve something, and that’s when you have to think about all your friends, all your family, everyone at home whose put all that effort in to allow you to be in that position, to allow you to be lucky enough to be following your dream and that’s a real motivation and that’s what kept me going
H: Motivation for both of you as well, you’ve got each other to motivate each other
R: Absolutely, that helps a lot yes
H: Carrie wants to know “are you scared at all?” This is obviously a huge challenge, there must be some fear in there, it would be abnormal if you didn’t have some fear
R: I think it’s more anxiety, you know there’s been a huge lead-up to this expedition, we’ve been working very hard, you know with it, with so many other people, training hard, and we’re just so anxious to get out there. There’s always an element of fear, anything can go wrong but we’re prepared and I think it’s a calculated risk which we’ve ironed out as many of the risks as we possibly can
H: How do you keep in touch with the family and friends? Presumably you’ve got contact –
J: Yes I mean because of the website and sending back video and so on we have great satellite communications and we actually, we have a kind of satellite modem terminal which is about the same size as a lap top, and what you have to do is you have to kind of point this kind of lap top lid almost at the satellite, and using that you can actually get broadband access and it means that we can upload video clips as well as just make telephone calls
H: Technology is with you!
H: Are there certain books or music that you’re going to take with you? That was Luke’s question by the way about contacting the family, but are there any books and music, have you already ironed out exactly what you’re going to be doing there?
R: Well I think in this day and age it’s going to be difficult to go anywhere without an MP3 player
H: Of course
R: So –
H: Seems natural doesn’t it? Have you got one each have you?
J: Yes yes definitely
H: So you don’t get bored of each other’s tastes
R: We’ve got to be quite careful though because what we calculated when we were in Greenland is that we’ve got to be careful who listens to their music at what time, because polar bears all around and we’ve got to keep an ear out all the time and we’ve got a rifle in the tent if the worst comes to the worst
H: Sure. So you’ll be overnighting and sort of cooking for yourselves – are you good cooks?
J: Yes I mean you don’t have much choice you have to eat these freeze dried meals and it’s actually quite horrible actually because every day you have to boil in the region of about 10 litres of water –
H: Have you started on them already by the way?
J: Unfortunately we had to have some in our training week in Greenland and they get pretty boring quite quickly, but it’s the main problem just how much time is taken up just boiling ice for water
H: You know I don’t envy you with any of this guys because freeze dried food, I mean that just takes all the fun out of it doesn’t it?
R: Well you’d be surprised actually, it actually tastes quite good after a period of time
H: You haven’t convinced me, sorry! Liz wants to know “if you complete this challenge, do you have any further plans for further expeditions?”
R: Well I think at the moment we’ve got to stay 110% focused on the expedition, it’s such a big –
R: 180% yes and after that we’re supporting charities in America and the UK, the Prince’s Trust is the UK charity
R: And we’ve got a lot of obligation to make sure we can maximize what we’re doing for them and the environmental message, we’ve got to go round, talk to – like we have since Everest – talking to schools, talking to young people and just sharing our experiences
H: We’ve got a last question in, it’s from Kate, “impossible is nothing – surely this is mission impossible?”
J: Well I mean it’s kind of –
H: Oh come on Kate, that’s a bit harsh!
J: It’s almost setting the gauntlet there if you like the pun, but no it’s not impossible, nothing is impossible and I really do believe that, it doesn’t matter what it is you know you can find a way of achieving it, and this first, you know it seems like a logistical nightmare but if you break it down, if you really look at it and if you really want to do it you can achieve anything
H: I have to say that for two young guys who are 19 you’ve already got bags of experience but if you look back maybe 2, 3, 4 years down the line back, would you be ever dreamed that you’d be doing this?
R: I have to say I really couldn’t see it myself, but my life has changed a massive amount in the last 12 months – this time last year we had no money for Everest, still not sure whether we’d make the summit, still not sure whether our bodies could even go that high. Very different
H: Alright, and now look at it, this is where you are – with the help of Adidas as well and obviously you’re extremely grateful to them, and you’ve got a website as well which is –
R: It’s 180degrees.com, so 180degrees.com and it’d be great to see everyone follow it
H: You’re going to have so many hits on that it’s going to be bizarre. We wish you the very best, it’s been a delight to meet you both. I hope that in 12 months time we can be sitting here and nattering about how brilliant it all was, and I’m sure we will be. The very best of luck to you both, thank you very much for joining us –
R: Thank you very much
J: Thank you very much
H: Thank you very much indeed to Rob and James for joining us and thank you very much indeed for joining us as well. Don’t forget the website there’s a link at the bottom of the page here, thanks for your questions and we’ll see you next time.