This autumn, Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports and British Exploring Society have partnered to present ‘Tales Of Endurance’ – a series of talks from three BES alumni focusing on overcoming challenges, exploration and adventure.
Alex Gregory – Wednesday 3 October – 8.15pm – 9.30pm
Father – 2 x Olympic Gold – Fellow of British Exploring Society – Arctic Explorer – 7 x Guinness World Record Holder – Author
In 2017 Alex joined a pioneering Arctic rowing expedition with the goal of becoming the first crew to row across the dangerous and inhospitable Arctic ocean. The international crew of explorers and extreme endurance athletes set-off from the Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard, with the intention of heading North to the permanent ice sheet. After reaching a point further North than anyone has reached on water by human power before, the crew turned and headed South towards Iceland.
As the weather closed in the journey went from an expedition of discovery and record-breaking routes to one of survival. With high winds, huge, unpredictable seas and failing electrical power on board, the team battled through uncharted territory for weeks with no back-up, no safety net, no way out, eventually making it to the tiny, little known island of Jan Mayen around 300 miles north of Iceland in the middle of the Greenland Sea. A resident group of 18 Norwegian military personnel took the crew in and allowed them to rest and recuperate on land after the ordeal. Next challenge, getting off this tiny isolated island where civilians never tread.
Life was firmly put in perspective out there on the Icy Arctic water. Lessons in Leadership and survival came to the fore on the journey, the crew consisted of members from different backgrounds, motivations and beliefs. The expedition was deemed a success with more Guinness world-records broken than any previous ocean rowing expedition, but could there have been a better way?
Alex is a proud Fellow of the British Exploring Society. Having been a young explorer himself in 2001, Alex has seen first-hand the significant and life changing benefits the society provides young people and contributes much of his Olympic success to the lessons learnt with the British Exploring Society.
Vijay Shah – Monday 15 October – 8.15pm – 9.30pm
Growing up in east London, Vijay’s childhood and adolescence was an urban one, but a British Exploring Society expedition to Svalbard in the high Arctic sparked something in him and only five years later he was guiding for British Exploring Society in the Peruvian Andes and undertook several solo climbs in the high-altitude mountains. However, it was the Arctic that captivated his imagination and so with a fellow British Exploring Society Leader he was part of the first British team to ski across the remote Penny Ice Cap on Canada’s Baffin Island, opening up a new route in the process. Not just limited to the most extreme environments, Vijay has also spent over three years travelling across six continents which included stumbling into an event dubbed as the largest human gathering the world has ever seen.
Vijay’s desire for exploration isn’t just limited to this world. Captivated by human spaceflight he is a chartered aerospace engineer designing a novel space propulsion system for a single stage to orbit spaceplane and was a candidate on BBC Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? aired in 2017.
Zanna Baker – Monday 5 November – 8.15pm – 9.30pm
Ice Maiden was an expedition in which a team of six women became the first all female team to cross Antarctica by (wo)man power alone, completing the 1704km, 61 day expedition in January 2018. Zanna Baker was part of this army expedition, which also successfully became the first team to do this crossing with no prior Arctic experience and included the youngest person ever to do so.
Zanna is a Regional Advisor for the British Army. Prior to commissioning from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, she was a jack-of-all-trades, dabbling in art, geography, then specialising in music and languages (currently studying Somali, having previously learnt French and Arabic). Not liking to sit still for long, she has travelled extensively, including longer periods spent in Nepal and the Middle East. Her life goal of walking to the South Pole was inspired at the age of 18 by a two month mountaineering and scientific expedition to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands with British Exploring Society. It was there that she realised what that she was physically capable of so much more than she had previously thought, with one of her leaders being the greatest influence on her. She firmly believes that without the exposure to the outdoor environment given to her by British Exploring Society, that she would never have joined the Army and she would not be here today.
The talks will take place in the Ellis Brigham flagship store, 10-12 Southampton St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7HA.
Tickets are £10 with all proceeds going to British Exploring Society.