Fewer people have skied solo to the South Pole than have been into space. And to date no-one with a disability has ever attempted a solo, unsupported expedition to the South Pole.
In 2024, Jonny Huntington is aiming to be the first disabled person to ski solo and unsupported across 911 kms of Antarctic tundra – an expedition he anticipates will take 40 days.
To mark the launch of his challenge, Jonny is embarking on a mammoth ultra-marathon from Manchester to London on 30 October, both raising money for The Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team (AFPST), Adaptive Grand Slam (AGS) and Invictus Games Foundation charities and testing the resilience of his body by putting it through similar stresses he will feel on his expedition.
“This is a massive undertaking for an able-bodied person. Add my restricted movements, especially my lower leg, and it takes the challenge to a whole new level,” said Jonny Huntington.
Along the way, Jonny will be visiting schools on his route to show local children that anything is possible with self-belief and determination.
Jonny added: “It’s important I use this as an opportunity to inspire children around the country, helping to give young people the belief and confidence to attempt incredible things and live up to their potential.”
Jonny joined the army in 2013, training at Sandhurst to become an officer. In June 2014, just eight weeks after commissioning into the British Army, Jonny was in the gym when he suffered a devastating stroke.
The neurological damage left Jonny paralysed down one side.
It took years of rehab before Jonny was able to fully walk again, and even then, he was left with restricted movement down his left side.
During his recovery Jonny became a member of the Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team (AFPST), which fuelled his love of cross-country skiing.
This led to Jonny becoming one of the first athletes in a new GB Para Nordic ski team, where he competed from 2017 to 2020 at international level at World Cups in Lviv, Ukraine and Vuokatti, Finland, as well as the inaugural European Paralympic Committee Games in Poland in 2020.
Para classifications and his unique physical limitations eventually made it impossible to compete at the highest levels, however this experience laid the foundations for his plans to be the first disabled explorer to reach the South Pole.
“Through the expedition to the South Pole we are breaking boundaries within the disabled community and pushing the idea of human potential,” said Jonny.
“For me, the South Pole expedition is about challenging myself, about pushing myself further than I’ve ever pushed my body before.
“My hope is that this expedition will highlight that no challenge is insurmountable, whether someone is disabled or not.”
Jonny’s expedition is planned for November 2024, and is expected to take approximately 40 days on the ice.
During that time, he will be dragging all his equipment and food in a sled which will weigh in excess of 90kg.
Jonny added: “I’m under no illusion; this is going to be tough. Just living in temperatures of minus 35 comes with its own challenges – let alone the epic journey I’ll be undertaking.
“The motivation that drives me to reach the Pole, and get home, is that I really want to show that no matter what life throws at you – with enough determination everyone can fulfil their own potential.”
To find out more about Jonny’s adventure visit https://www.justgiving.com/page/jonny-huntington-m2l and @jonnyhuntington on Instagram.
Jonny is proudly supported by Specialist Risk Group, Team Forces and ACRE Capital Real Estate and is currently seeking further partners for his groundbreaking expedition.
Header image: Credit: Chris Powell