Bristol adventurer off to the Arctic
A young outdoor pursuits instructor has been preparing for an expedition to the Arctic – by dragging a homemade sled around Blaise Castle.
Philip de Beger, from Westbury-on-Trym, will embark on the 300-mile trek later this month.
The 21-year-old has been working on his fitness for the last six months, pulling a sled made from old tyres around the estate's paths and trails, accompanied by his cocker spaniel, Tessa.
But he has been forced to carry out his strange exercise after it gets dark, because he keeps getting stopped by bemused onlookers.
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Mr de Beger said: "To get used to pulling a sled across the Arctic I made a sledge out of two tyres and a large wooden base, and have been pulling that around Blaise Castle at night.
"It is a bit embarrassing doing it in the day, and I was getting stopped by so many dog walkers that I wasn't getting much done."
Mr de Beger is the youngest member of the five-strong team, which flies to Canada on March 25.
They plan to ski 300 miles from Resolute Bay to Grise Fjords, the most northerly Inuit community.
If they are successful they will be the first British team to complete the trek.
The team of four men and one woman will spend about 30 days skiing across the Arctic plains, dragging heavy sleds carrying their food, tents and clothing.
When they get there they plan to spend a few days meeting the Inuit people and getting to know their culture, before flying back to Canada.
But to achieve their feat they will have to brave horrendous conditions – and the odd polar bear.
Mr de Beger said: "It is going to be pretty cold. A hot day will be about -25C (-13F), and it will reach as low as -40C (-40F) on a cold day.
"We are going to try to avoid the main patches of large ice rubble to make the trip smoother, but there is always the danger of polar bears.
"They are quite big and strong, and it is certainly possible we could come across one or two of them along the way.
"This route has never been done by a British team, so it will be a real challenge and a hell of an achievement if we manage it."
Mr de Beger has spent the winter at his Bristol home working for an after-school club to raise the £6,000 he needs for his Arctic trip.
But he spent last winter in Africa, climbing new routes on mountains in Ethiopia and Kenya with a team of international climbers.
And last summer he taught kayaking, hill walking and climbing in Scotland to groups of children.
He caught the climbing bug six years ago when he was at St Mary Redcliffe School, and now would love to turn outdoor pursuits into a full-time career.
He said: "I want to do something I enjoy, and if I ever had an office job I would spend the whole time looking forward to my next expedition. So it would be better to make a career out of it instead."
And after he reaches one of the most northerly points on the planet, Mr de Beger will be heading off to climb to the roof of the world – Mt Everest, in Nepal.
He won the trip from Ellis Brigham, a Clifton-based mountain sports store.
Mr de Beger entered an online competition held to celebrate the shop's 75th birthday, and won the £7,000 trip and all the equipment he needs, from a down jacket to crampons and ice axes.
He will undertake the month-long expedition in April next year, culminating in an ascent of Everest's 7,000m North Col.
His prize was originally scheduled for this April, but he had to put it back a year because of his Arctic trip.
He said: "It is pretty exciting, and it is great because I have an expedition to look forward to this year and next.
"It is not often you get the chance to go to somewhere like that, and would cost a fortune otherwise. I was talking to the guys I climb with at the Avon Mountaineering Club and they were pretty jealous.
"They were trying to persuade me to go for an attempt on Everest's summit, but that is a whole different ball game and will have to wait."
Mark Brigham, the company's marketing manager, said: "It is the trip of a lifetime, something that all the guys in the shop want to do.
"It is not a technically difficult trek, but is gruelling for fitness.
"Philip is already on a training programme for his Arctic trip and has been running around dragging tyres, so I am sure he will be OK."