Ready for South Pole adventure

2012-01-07 00:00

IT’S all systems go!

After months of training, he’s ready to embark on a gruelling journey that will see him walking 111 kilometres in metres of freezing ice and snow to get to the South Pole.

Nzuzo Mnikathi (19) looks like a Zulu warrior — he’s tall, well built and oozes confidence, but all this belies the hardships he’s endured as an Aids orphan.

The loving home of his grandmother has been a good grounding and now he feels he can prove that he is made of tough stuff.

All the physical preparation — a daily jog, weight lifting and even a few sessions inside a cooler room — were necessary to get his body acclimatised to sub-zero temperatures.

“I know I am physically ready. I feel very fit, and I think that I am mentally ready as well,” said Nzuzo as he was packing for the expedition this weekend. His heavy kit bag was stuffed with specialised gear for the trip.

His gogo, Ivy Ndlovu, is not too worried about his safety as there is a doctor on the six-man team doing the expedition.

Nzuzo was selected to represent the Unlimited Child Foundation because he had all the qualities of leadership and embraced the chance for adventure and opportunity.

The foundation raises money for orphans who have lost parents in the HIV/Aids epidemic and they raise funds for early childhood development projects for those affected.

Nzuzo lost his father in 2001 and then his mother died in 2003.

He hopes that the expedition will prove to other youngsters that they too can achieve amazing things, even without the help of parents.

“Life is always going to challenge us and if we use our inner determination, we can overcome obstacles and we can become great.”

Nzuzo joins the team comprising of Iain Buchan (founder of Unlimited Child) and his sons Zak and Barney, Buchan’s childhood friend, Dr Pete Burny, and adventurer Sean Wisedale, who has previously been on this expedition.

Their main challenge is the freezing sub-zero temperatures: body temperature must remain constant, if you sweat it freezes.

There is a constant threat of altitude sickness which includes dizziness and vomiting. The thrill of the adventure can subside, and dealing with endless snow and hardship can become dull and boring. The group walk in single formation so talking is not easy.

The experience is described by adventurer Wisedale as total sensory deprivation, as the wind obliterates the sound and the goggles are mostly frosted over. Muscles ache continuously and the air hurts your lungs as you breathe in.

The team start their journey on January 14 and they hope to complete the trip to the South Pole in 14 days, but anything could happen. A wind storm or blizzard could delay them.

They are keeping in touch with family and supporters back home using the latest equipment supplied by Hillcrest-based company Tawk2me. They have developed a world-wide unique technology that allows cellphone users to send out voice messages in a similar way as one would send out an SMS.

“Many people want to follow my trip on Facebook and Twitter, but that’s impossible due to the harsh weather conditions, but Tawk2me have come up with a solution. This way folks will be able to hear the adventure — all the exhaustion and emotions,” he said.

If you are interested in following the Unlimited Child South Pole Expedition and listening to the updates you can log onto www.tawk2me.com to receive live voice updates.

If you would like to donate money to the Unlimited Child cause you can check out their website www.unlimitedchild.co.za

• trish.beaver@witness.co.za

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