On 12th July 2011 Richard Parks made history becoming the first ever person to stand on the 7 highest summits of the world and all 3 poles – The South Pole, North Pole and summit of Everest in the same calendar year. An incredible feat achieved within 7 record setting months.
209 days ago Richard Parks left Cardiff attempting to make history and raise £1m in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. The former Wales rugby international, turned mountaineer had just one more mountain left to climb to complete his world first.
Mount Elbrus, the highest point in the Russian Caucasus and Europe was all that stood between Richard becoming the first ever person to stand on the 7 highest summits of the world and all 3 poles in the same calendar year. In fact, he completed his challenge in a record setting 7 months.
189 days ago Richard was stood on the South Pole having completed the first leg of his 7-month race looking ahead to 7 gruelling months of climbing, trekking and skiing and to the dangers and unknowns of some the most hostile places on the planet.
This week he arrived home from Alaska for one day, enough time to wash some kit and re pack before jetting off to Russia.
Interview requests are flooding in and excitement building now Richard has achieved this incredible world first, but he remained as focused and steadfast about how he approached climbing the last mountain.
Richard Parks is a former Welsh international rugby player, earning caps against South Africa, Fiji, Scotland and Ireland. He also represented the Barbarians and Wales Sevens on the IRB world circuit and in the World Cup.
As a back row forward, he made a name for himself as a hard, prolific tackler and support player. However, he was recently forced to retire from the game due to a career ending shoulder injury. Richard was an integral part of both the Principality Cup winning Pontypridd side and the Powergen Cup winning Leeds Tykes.
After a spell playing for the French club USA Perpignan, he returned to Wales with the Gwent Dragons, passionate to represent his country again. Despite putting himself back into contention for International selection with his performances for the region, sadly injury prevented his return to the International stage and ultimately forced his early retirement from what was a highly successful 13 year career in professional rugby. When asked about the 737 Challenge, Richard said;
“Lying in bed following my second operation to repair my shoulder, I was suddenly faced with the reality of life without professional rugby, which had been at the centre of my entire adult life. The adjustment was difficult to deal with as the disciplines of my rugby career no longer applied. Suddenly everything changed – what I ate, the pattern of sleep and my regular daily routine. I felt utterly lost! From the confident person with an organised lifestyle that I had always been, I became scared of the unknown future that lay ahead. I suffered with a mixture of frustration, despair and even anger dominating my thoughts. I was deeply depressed. It was a dark place for me.”
“I happened to be reading Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ book ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know’, which somehow became intertwined with a phrase from my Nana’s funeral ‘The horizon is only the limit of our sight’.”
“It had an immediate effect on me, helping me find the courage and inspiration to face head on my fears and my future. From reading about the experiences of Sir Ranulph Fiennes in his book, the mental, physical and technical challenges of Polar travel and climbing the 7 summits captured my imagination. At the very moment I discovered the 7 summits, I had decided that I was going to climb them! ”
“I learnt that our lives will always be made up of many chapters. We can never go back and we cannot forsee our future. However, we can take charge right now of how we choose to live and what we think, right now in the present. I had belief anew! All I had to do now was find other people that believed in me too!!”
“I found this belief in the support that I received both from Sir Ranulph Fiennes himself and from the organisations that have become closely associated with the early days of the project – Jagged Globe, Limegreentangerine, and Marie Curie. So, with their input, my 737 Challenge was born. 7 Summits, 3 Poles in 7 Months. A World First. Raising funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Awesome!”
“since then I have found many more believers. I am very grateful and humbled by the support of all the companies and individuals involved. Their belief in me, The 737 Challenge and my ability to successfully complete the challenge simply means everything. You know who you are, thank you.”