A POLAR explorer trained by a North East adventure guru has failed in his attempt at an Antarctic challenge.
Former Royal Marine Chris Foot was attempting to walk 1,400km unsupported to the South Pole and back again.
The 32-year-old had been trained by Conrad Dickinson from Hexham, who has smashed records for polar exploration.
Conrad, 55, spent time with Chris last year training him in arctic survival, in Northumberland.
After reaching the South Pole in 41 days after setting out from Hercules Inlet at the end of November Chris called an end to his challenge.
His start date had been delayed by 16 days which meant he was off schedule for the weather patterns.
But Chris, at one time the youngest ever member of the SAS, has vowed to attempt the challenge again next winter.
He wrote on his online blog: “I am thrilled to have got to the Pole in 41 days Solo unsupported and unassisted with a start weight of roughly 135kg.
“This is the perfect rehearsal for later this year, as the strategy was executed precisely how I wanted it for a return journey, so I know exactly what to expect
“It has tested me in ways I have not been subjected to for a long time.
“As an individual working to optimal levels 9-10 hours solid a day, realising its just you and your own self discipline and motivation to keep you going and continually dig deep.
“I said to friends the most critical part of staying power is not so about having 100 reasons to carry on, but making bloody well sure you never come up with one reason for stopping when the rot tries to set in.”
Speaking from Norway, where he is training a team of polar explorers, Conrad paid tribute to Chris.
He said: “He only failed because he was delayed by 16 days flying into Antarctica. What he did was tremendous going to the South Pole in 41 days pulling 135 kgs.
“If he had the time available he would have got back. He is going to try again next year.
“If he is not delayed I am sure he will pull it off and it will be a great British victory.”
Conrad and Chris spent time along the Roman Wall and at Slaley Forest in Northumberland where Conrad taught Chris endurance techniques as well as what equipment, and navigation devices he should take.
Conrad said: “During training in Northumberland he was pulling three tyres and I was walking alongside him for three hours. I was almost out of breath trying to keep up with him.”
Another training expedition saw Conrad spend a month in Antarctica working with teams of Austrian and German minor celebrities for a reality TV show-style race to the South Pole they were undertaking.
In 2004 Conrad marched into the history books when he skied from Canada to the North Pole in 52 days and 12 hours.
He knocked 10 days off the British record for the fastest unsupported 775km trek from Ward Hunt Island, Canada, to the top of the world.
Former Army officer Conrad is a director of the family firm Karpet Mill at Kingston Park and Durham. In December 2004, the 55-year-old and his wife Hilary became the first married British couple to trek unsupported to the South Pole.
His expertise is now in high demand and polar training and consultancy work takes up much of his time.