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A World Record and World FirstThe Pole of Possibility

An exploration of 'Adventure Mindset' for emotional health and resilience.

Two women explore mindset and post-traumatic growth as they take on a World First journey to the South Pole. Together, Karen Darke, a Tiso Ambassador, and Iona Somerville will unravel the process and mindsets that have helped them navigate tough mental, emotional and physical challenges. Their journey into the icy Antarctic wilds will also take the pair on an adventure into the wilderness of the human psyche. They will explore the power of nature and adventure to enable resilience and recovery, sharing their learning via film and a book being developed with social change activist and Jefferson Award founder Sam Beard, Founder of Connect Universe.

by Karen Darke

Karen has hand skied across Greenland, hand biked through the Himalayas and climbed El Capitan. She is the author of several books and works as a motivational speaker and coach. Karen has also participated in two Paralympic Games winning silver and gold medals!

Polar Academy graduate Iona Somerville has teamed up with me with a vision of creating the POLE OF POSSIBILITY in Antarctica, 2022. Our mission is to explore and share the advantages of adversity. Our personal stories illustrate that through the toughest events of life surprising things become possible.

Recently training in Norway (January 2022), we enjoyed some training together and got to know each other better in preparation for the journey ahead. Pertinent to current interest in emotional health and mental wellbeing, we are excited to explore how delving into our adversity, nature and adventure help us heal from difficult life events. We will unravel how dramatic personal change has enabled us to do more than we would ever have believed possible. Through learning from the tough events of life we can find individual and collective ability to do more than we might otherwise.

Image courtesy of Karen Darke and Iona Somerville

Iona's own journey of low-confidence and then post-traumatic stress following her experience at the Arianne Grande bombing in Manchester has taken her on a deep inner journey. Her recovery through immersion in team, exercise and nature parallels my own process of becoming paralysed at age 21 and the stack of physical and emotional traumas that I have experienced since then. Our natural world and outdoor adventure has huge curative power.

Iona and I are keen to enthuse others with that spirit of adventure and possibility, and are offering talks about our journeys of navigating challenge, adventure mindset and mental resilience in order to raise the £160,000 that we need between us to make the POLE OF POSSIBILITY a reality. We would like our film-maker Mike of Spiral Out Pictures to join us. Please message us if we can help you to help us: karen@karendarke.com.

Our journey beginning at the end of 2022 will happen to be a World and Guinness Record, and a World First for a female to sit-ski to the South Pole. It is one of the toughest journeys we could invent: 250km of frozen plateau at over 3000 metres to the Pole. Our journey into the Antarctic will be the perfect laboratory for us to further explore the power of nature and adventure to enable resilience and recovery, sharing our learning and experience.

Image courtesy of Karen Darke and Iona Sommerville

We are lucky to have the support of Tiso and Sprayway outdoor clothing and are really grateful for any other organisations that would like to get involved. Here are some images from Norway. We weren’t under canvas on this trip, but we will be next month, getting ourselves further acclimatised to training and camping in cold conditions. It was however down to minus 25 with conditions from ice to fresh snow, so there was plenty of opportunity to put our warm clothing and skiing skills into action!

See more from Karen over on Instagram:


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