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The Mission

Luke Richmond, an Australian adventurer has climbed five of the seven highest mountains on the seven continents. He has one more to do before finishing with the mighty Mt Everest. He is raising awareness for the Children’s Hospital at Westmead who care for over 70000 children annually and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, who have been the medical lifeline for Australians living in the vast Australian outback for many years. In between expeditions Luke owns and operates BoxHQ in Sydney where he trains hard for the ever looming Mt Everest.

Antartic Accomplishment

If there is one place in the world that makes you realize just how insignificant and vulnerable you are it is Antartica. I flew from Punta Arenas, a small town on the coast of Chile four and a half hours south to a blue ice runway on Union Glacier and our first camp on the way to Vinson Massif the tallest point in Antartica. 
The landing strip is operated by ALE, a logistics company who assists in all expeditions to the icy continent, they are a first class operator and Ill be forever grateful for their help with feeding us and getting us to Vinson Massif base camp.  As soon as we stepped off the Russian Iluysian aircraft onto the blue ice the cold was immense. It was a balmy minus 20 during the middle of the day, and I didn’t know it then but I’d be praying for minus 20 in a weeks time. From the ALE camp we flew in a Twin Otter eight seater aircraft to our base camp and starting point for the mountain.  We flew over some of the most amazing land I have ever seen. The snow and ice stretched to the horizon in ever direction, the tips of rocky mountains protruding through the 3000m thick ice shelf all around us, it is one of the driest and most inhospitable places in the world and one wrong move out here can be a quick end to life. 
We landed in the snow at base camp, the starting point of our climb. It was cold and sunny with an epic view to say the least. From here we loaded up sleds and packs with everything we would need  on the mountain for the next ten days. 
We slept at base camp our first night and  started to make our way up towards our goal the following day. Over nine days we worked towards the top, carrying loads, dragging sleds and pushing on through the continuous daylight and freezing temperatures that make up the Antarctic summer. We set up our high camp and waited for our chance to make a summit attempt. 
We received weather reports indicating clearing weather in the afternoon of our second day at high camp so we decided to go for it.  No one can predict the weather, a common thought these days and today it was totally accurate. The weather didn’t clear and simply got worse three hours into our summit bid forcing us to turn around and make our way back to high camp. Our spirits still intact we made a second attempt the following day. The weather was windy the second day but clear enough to continue on, special care had to be taken for exposed skin as it would freeze within seconds in the well below freezing temperatures. We made it to the summit ridge after 8 hrs of climbing in terrible conditions, rarely stopping as it would simply get to cold when we weren’t moving. The summit ridge is the last 200m traverse to reach the top of Antarctica which this late in the afternoon was getting battered by gale forced winds. It was minus 35 before the wind, with the wind it was pressing on minus 60 and is the coldest I have ever been in my life. I made it to the summit and raised my ice axe in the air, with barely enough time to choke back a tear of triumph I turned and immediately started the second half of the climb back down to high camp.  Getting to the top is optional but getting down is mandatory. It took us four hours to get back to the relative safety of our tents where we consumed as much fluids as our bodies would allow and fell into a well deserved rest. We all stood  on the summit of the tallest mountain in Antartica at 4892m on the 19th Jan 2012 and the coldest day in this Australians history. 
As I made my way down to base camp the following days my mind changed from completing a mission to preparing for the next one. In a short few months time I will journey back to the Southern mountains of Russia to take on Mt Elbrus once again. A tough decision had to be made on our last encounter to turn around, but a wise man once told me “it’s better to come ten times to the mountains and go home then to come once and never go home “. You can choose when you fail on a climb but the mountain will decide if you succeed or die. 
So as I fly in the old Russian plane back to civilization from one of the most amazing places I have ever visited,im already  planning my first workouts back at the training camp in thailand. Preparation is the key to success and I love to prepare. 
Thanks to everyone for their support and stay tuned for some crazy training to follow. OLOC – one life one chance

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