Written by Karen Darke FRSGS, RSGS Mungo Park Medallist 

This is an invitation join in the ‘Pole of Possibility Challenge’.

I’m Karen Darke, amongst other things, a Paralympic champion and an adventurer. After a climbing accident in Scotland left me paralysed from the chest down, I have been fortunate to share some life-changing and awe-inspiring adventures in various corners of the world. I love to ride my handbike, and since winning a gold medal and the 79th medal for Britain in the Rio Paralympics, I have cycled across six of the seven continents, exploring some of the most profound environmental and wellbeing challenges of our world.

The last continent I have to explore is Antarctica. I’m feeling an equal mix of excitement and intimidation as is normal for most of us with any challenge that lies before us. Being paralysed creates lots of ‘hidden’ challenges like body temperature control, skin care, and using the toilet; it’s a huge project.

However, we always have a choice – to let fear stop us, or to use it to help us plan and prepare well, and step out of our comfort zone into the unknown. When we can be brave enough to do that, we always learn and discover something new, and change our world for the better. 

Instead of following the well-trodden path to the South Pole, or the Pole of Inaccessibility, we want to create a unique new pole to represent all that is possible when purpose, passion and people come together: the ‘Pole of Possibility’ at 79 degrees latitude and longitude in virgin Antarctica.

The plan is that with a small, diverse team, we will journey to create this new Pole of Possibility in January 2022. But, alongside this, we are also seeking a team of ‘home-based’ adventurers to join in from around the world with their own, personal challenges.

The challenging, uncertain and complex environment of Antarctica is a representation of the world we live in. The creation of the new pole here will be marked with an emblem to inspire hope about what can be achieved when we unite with heart towards a purpose.

I invite you to get in touch with me, [email protected] with your idea of something you would like to do whilst we are training for the new pole. And it would be amazing if through your challenge you’d be willing to help us fundraise for the incredible work done by The Spinal Injuries Association who provide vital services and support to thousands of people each year who acquire a spinal cord injury in the UK. 

If you raise over £2,000, your individual, group, family, school or business name will be printed onto the flag that we will plant at the new pole. And, you will also be entered into a prize draw for some exciting prizes.

If your need a spark to get your ideas going, then check out this story from ten-year old Rowan from the Isle of Skye who climbed 79 peaks in 79 weeks!


I would love to hear from you if you’d like to get involved and be one of the names on our flag at the pole! I’m also proud to say that Sir Ranulph Fiennes – RSGS Livingstone Medallist – is our patron. Any companies that would like to create the possibility of being a partner on the project are also welcome to get in touch.