FAVIA 225 confirms Sir David Hempleman-Adams as a keynote speaker at the Grand Ball Gala
Sir David Hempleman-Adams is a veteran of Adventures, predominantly in Mountaineering, Polar, and Aviation. In 2017, he received a rare personal gift from the Queen of England – an appointment to Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in the New Year Honours, as recognition of his services in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.
David’s interest in expedition began with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, for which he holds a Gold medal. He is an accomplished mountaineer, having climbed the seven highest peaks of the seven continents, i.e. Everest (Asia), Vinson (Antarctica), Aconcagua (South America), McKinley (North America), Carstenz Pyramid (Australasia), Elbrus (Europe) and Kilimanjaro (Africa), and reached the North and South Geographic and Magnetic Poles.
He was a member of the team which, in 1981, achieved one of the fastest ascents of Mt. McKinley (Alaska). In 1983, he attempted a solo expedition to the Geographical North Pole. The attempt failed when, after 230 miles, he cracked several ribs and had to watch his food supplies dwindle whilst sitting out a severe ten-day storm.
In 1984, he was the first person to successfully complete a solo expedition to the Magnetic North Pole without the support of dogs, snow mobiles, or air supplies. Then in 1992, he led the first team to walk unsupported to the Geomagnetic North Pole.
On January 5 1996, he became the first Briton to walk solo and unsupported to the South Pole. And later, on February 19, he sailed to the South Magnetic Pole, becoming the first person to achieve both South Poles in the same year.
On May 15 1996, he led the Ultimate Challenge, a team of novices, to ski to the Magnetic North Pole, gaining some notable firsts. Thus, he became the only person ever to reach both North and South Magnetic Poles in one year.
In early March 1998, David set off on a 600 mile journey which would place him in the record books as one of the most successful all-round adventurers the world has ever seen. Facing wind-chill down to minus 90 centigrade, he man-hauled his sledge to the North Pole across the constantly shifting ice of the frozen Arctic Ocean.
His success ended a 15-year odyssey and placed him in the history record books as the first person to complete the Explorers’ Grand Slam, a challenge which has seen him conquer the North and South Magnetic Poles, become the first Briton to walk solo and unsupported to the South Pole; and walk to the North Geographic Pole and scale the highest mountain in each of the seven continents, including Everest.
In 1998, David Hempleman-Adams turned to ballooning. In December, with only 30 hours of flying experience, David flew across the Andes. He took off in the Typhoo Challenger hot air balloon, with open wicker basket, from a polo field in Chile. The balloon rose to more than 32,000 ft. before catching westerly winds that blew it across the inhospitable craggy peaks into Argentina – the total journey lasted 5½ hours.
On June 1st 2000, David became the only pilot to fly a balloon to the North Pole. He set a number of ballooning records, including longest solo flight by a British balloonist at 132 hours; distance record for the Arctic at 1400 km to the North Pole ring and 2451 km total; first balloonist to fly solo to the North Pole, and first balloonist to fly solo across the Arctic Ocean.
An attempt had been made in 1897 to reach the North Pole by the Swedish explorer Salomon Andrée, but it ended in disaster when the balloon was forced to crash land on the ice. After his own terrifying landing on the ice, David said, “In a lifetime of adventure, I’ve never known such an experience. If I had known what I was going to put myself through before embarking on this trip, I might have thought twice about it.”
On April 6th 2003, David became the first person to ski, solo and unsupported, to the Geomagnetic North Pole. The daring journey involved dragging a Kevlar sledge, weighed down with over 100 lbs. of equipment and supplies, for nearly 300 miles. David had to use all his mountaineering skills to climb and abseil the hazardous icy terrain. With this, his latest success in a long line of record achievements, he marked the 20th Anniversary of his exploring career. “As far as solo Arctic expeditions are concerned, I think I have reached the age where I should hand over to the younger generation”, David announced on completion.
On September 29th 2003, battling against cold, sleep deprivation, the shock of Concorde’s sonic boom severely jilting the basket and snow and hail storms at 14,500 feet over the Irish Sea, David became the first person to fly a balloon solo with an open wicker-basket across the Atlantic from Canada to the United Kingdom. The daring feat was his third attempt (his first two attempts were thwarted by technical glitches and poor weather conditions) to achieve his dream of a low-tech ‘Jules Verne’ style Atlantic balloon crossing.
At 6.36 on the 23rd March 2004, David took off from Denver, Colorado in the same balloon he had used to cross the Atlantic, this time in an attempt to beat the altitude record. Three and a half hours later he landed in a field 100 miles away having reached a height of 41,198 feet, smashing the existing record by 6000 feet. David was, again, in his open basket, breathing through an oxygen mask and bundled up against temperatures as low as minus 75 degrees.
In 2006, David broke the altitude record in an AX-6 hot air balloon when he reached 40,000 ft (minus 60 degrees) after his fifth attempt over three years. Afterwards, David said, “There must be an easier way to kill yourself!”
In 2007, David got a bit bored and decided to fly the smallest gas balloon across the Atlantic from St John’s, Newfoundland to Nolay, in mid-France on the Swiss-French border. He broke five records and told The Sunday Times, “If you see me in a balloon basket floating over the Atlantic you have my permission to shoot me!”
In April 2008, David took his daughter, Camilla, aged 15, on an Arctic expedition when she became the youngest British female to ski to the North Pole.
David said, “It’s embarrassing when you can’t keep up with your teenage daughter, but at least I can still drink more than her!”
On Friday the 10th of October 2008, David, along with co-pilot Jonathan Mason, won the prestigious Gordon Bennett Balloon race. They flew for over 74 hours and travelled a distance of 1098 miles. This was the first time, in the one hundred and two year history of the race that a British Team had won.
In 2011, he led a scientific team to the north side of Everest; eleven members of the team summitted. David said it was older age and the blood saturated with wine which helped him this time.
In September of 2011, with co-pilot Jonathan Mason, he did the incredible double of winning the America’s Challenge Balloon Race from Albuquerque. In the process they set a new duration record for the event.
In December 2011, he took his youngest daughter, Amelia, to the South Pole making her the youngest person to ski there.
In 2012, he led a team of four serving Walking Wounded soldiers from the Royal Dragoon Guards, skiing to the South Pole. He followed this up in April 2015, by taking the same soldiers to the North Pole making them the first serving soldiers to have reached both poles.
In 2014, David wanted to promote awareness of climate change, through schools, to the next generation who will be affected. He embarked on the Polar Ocean Challenge, a four-year project to sail around the North Pole via the North East and North West Passages in one season; a first for a British boat (www.polarocean.co.uk). Unfortunately, he was successful (this was only possible due to the receding ice) and now passes on that experience to young people in Britain and around the World.
David has set 46 FAI World Aviation Records.
He holds 80 honours and awards, has done 34 polar expeditions, and has been to the Poles 20 times.
He has had a passion for the outdoors over a span of 45 years. He regularly lectures on climate change in his lifetime. He is keen to promote youth adventure as an alternative to just academia to broaden the individual.
David is the author of six books and has made eight documentaries about his expeditions.
A Race Against Time – First expedition to the Geomagnetic North Pole
Toughing It Out – Semi Autobiography
Walking on Thin Ice – The 1997/1998 ski to the North Pole
At the Mercy of the Winds – 2000 Balloon flight to the North Pole
Heart of the Great Alone – with The Royal Collection
No Such Thing As Failure – Semi Autobiography