Britain-based explorer Mark Wood may come across as the jovial type you’d meet at your local pub, but beneath his unassuming exterior Mark is equipped with a shocking level of ambition and perseverance.
In 2011, he became the 8th person in history to reach the geographic South Pole – solo and unsupported. Last year he skied 200 miles across the North Pole, and aside from a random polar bear or two, he was again unaccompanied.
Currently, Mark is making final preparations for the third phase of his “Three Pole Expedition.” His final conquest? Mount Everest. And unlike other climbers who solely aim to summit Everest, Mark has much bigger plans in store.
“My role as an explorer nowadays is based around global communications – all I need is an internet connection and I use my iPhone, tablet or laptop to make Skype Video Calls with schools around the world. By interacting with students, I can make subjects like Geography and History come to life,” he explains.
As for finding an internet connection in the furthest corners of the globe, he says “I now have a BGAN [Broadband Global Area Network] unit. While it’s new for me, it’s already been proven in military use to attract satellites to create a WiFi space in remote areas.”
“As I make my way up Everest, it’s my intention to make Skype Video Calls to ten different schools in ten different countries around the globe through Skype in the classroom.” He went on to say, “When I ascend above 7000 meters – the toughest bit – I’ll link with the Skype office in California. And then, hopefully, right at the top, with all the conditions that Mother Nature has to offer me, including my physical and mental wellbeing, I’ll develop a WiFi space for my iPad and make the first Skype call from the summit of Mount Everest.”
Mark has been busy preparing himself both mentally and physically, and creating relationships with the schools that he’ll contact en route. “I like to call it ‘armchair exploring,’” he laughs. “I sit on the couch at home and introduce myself to students in Australia, Nigeria, Sweden, Thailand, Japan, North and South America and more, over Skype on my smartphone or tablet. It’s a lot of fun.”
He describes how “overall, emotional strength is the most important thing to have for a hardened expedition like this. You need good mental fortitude. So, I’ve spent a lot of time envisioning the trip. Physically: I’ve been keeping healthy and fit, but there is no substitute to being in the actual area to train.” That’s why Mark is now in Nepal, spending the next three weeks hiking in the foothills and getting accustomed to the altitude.
Next up is a gradual walk to Everest basecamp, followed by the 35 – 40 day ascent to the peak. Check out Mark’s website to follow his progress up Everest. Stay tuned and, with a little luck, he’ll make history with the first Skype call from the highest peak on Earth.