721 Challenge: Nick Hollis reaches South Pole in his race against climate change SEARCH NEWS


Nick took 51 days to trek from the coast of Antarctica to the geographic South Pole. Credit: Nick Hollis

Endurance athlete Nick Hollis began his 721 Challenge in early 2020: a Guinness World Record attempt to climb the highest mountain on all seven continents, ski the North and South Poles, and row the Atlantic Ocean – and to do it faster than anyone before. Having conquered the “Seven Summits”, Nick has now completed his 1,105km trek to the South Pole, raising funds for World Land Trust (WLT) every step of the way.

The 721 Challenge was born from Nick’s experience as an international mountaineer and expedition leader. Having witnessed first-hand the impact of manmade climate change on the natural world, he resolved to start making a difference. Nick is taking on his current endeavour on a plant-based diet, promoting environmental responsibility while raising awareness of the dangers of climate change.

Over the course of the challenge, Nick and his team are working to minimise their carbon footprint as much as possible, through WLT’s Carbon Balanced programme. He’s also raising vital funds for the Buy an Acre programme, which helps WLT partners to purchase and protect threatened habitats around the world. Current Buy an Acre projects include Kenya’s Dakatcha Woodland and the Somuncurá Plateau in Argentina – both found in much warmer climes than Antarctica, where Nick dealt with wind chill temperatures as low as -42°C!

Loaded with 80kg of supplies, Nick pulled this sled over snow and ice for 30-40km each day. Credit: Nick Hollis

Nick’s incredible feat of endurance is made all the more impressive by his struggle with Long Covid, which he describes as “the greatest challenge of my life”. The disease, which he first contracted in March 2020, left the super-fit athlete unable to go for just a short walk outside without lying down or passing out. You can hear him speak about the debilitating effects of Long Covid in this interview with ITV News. Knocked down but never beaten, Nick’s drive to continue his race against climate change was key to his recovery, as he advanced first from 500 steps a day, then to 10,000, and finally his epic solo South Pole expedition.

Over the course of 51 gruelling days, Nick trekked across the barren Antarctic landscape, with not another living creature in sight. Burning over 10,000 calories a day, he lost more than 10kg in body weight dragging his expedition sled over obstacles and deep snow. Nick also had to navigate his sled and skis over endless sastrugi, the wind-sculpted sections of snow and ice that are difficult to traverse at the best of times – not least during an endurance expedition!

A view of sastrugi that lay in Nick’s path to the Pole. Credit: Nick Hollis

The WLT team and all our partners are incredibly grateful to Nick for his inspirational efforts not just in Antarctica, but also on the Seven Summits, and with his battle against Long Covid. Nick can now look forward to a spell of rest and recuperation, but the keen adventurer won’t be staying on the sidelines for long. He already has his sights set on trekking the North Pole this spring, before gearing up for his Atlantic crossing before the year is out: the culmination of his 721 Challenge.

To learn more about Nick and the 721 Challenge, you can visit his website and follow his Facebook page. If you’d like to donate to his cause and raise funds for Buy an Acre, click here.

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