After a career ending injury in 2009, former Wales rugby international Richard Parks decided that he was going to confront his fears and unanswered questions by creating The 737 Challenge.
The Challenge consists of climbing 7 Summits – the highest mountain on each of the world’s continents – and venture to The South Pole and Geographic North Pole for the benefit of the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity. All against a 7 month clock!
In December 2010, with almost no prior mountaineering experience, Richard set out to complete his challenge. But in order to fund this ground-breaking task, Richard was forced to re-mortgage his and his parents homes. He also had to learn to acclimatise to these foreign, extremely dangerous environments to which he was very much a stranger.
A novice mountain climber, he undertook a very brief mountain climbing training on Mt. Blanc before starting his adventure. He had to be content with learning the highly technical and demanding aspects of mountain climbing very much ‘on-the-job’.
The journey was certainly not without risk or danger. Richard suffered a frostbitten toe, survived numerous avalanches and fell down a crevasse where he was stuck for an hour in -39°C temperatures on his way to completing this arduous and daring challenge.
6 months, 11 days, 7 hours and 53 minutes later, the challenge was completed and Richard had set a new world first. No other person in the world has stood on the 7 summits and 3 poles in the same calendar year.
Richard was also fortunate enough to be joined by Olympic Rower Steve Williams OBE for one leg of the challenge, as well as by Sir Ranulph Fiennes' and Marie Curie Nurse Janet Suart for other parts of the adventure. His heroic exploits attracted the attention of Sports Media Services who filmed his entire journey and Compelled by the footage, BBC One turned it into a 3 episode documentary entitled ‘Richard Parks: Conquering the World’.
Richard writes a regular column for BBC Sport Wales, as well as a blog for Media Wales. The latter reaches an audience of 760,000 users a month