FORMER Leeds rugby player Richard Parks is feeling on top of the world after completing the latest leg of a remarkable fundraising challenge.
Richard, 33, is aiming to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents in a bid to raise £1m for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
And if that wasn’t enough, he has also set himself the task of reaching the North and South Poles during his seven-month test of endurance.
By the middle of March, he had conquered the highest mountains on four continents and battled his way to the South Pole.
Now Richard has crossed off another item on his epic ‘to do’ list by making it to the North Pole.
He spent six days skiing through the Arctic wilderness to get to his target, where the wind chill factor meant it seemed as cold as -40C.
Richard, currently preparing to fly to Nepal for an assault on Mount Everest, said: “I say this after every leg, but it really is a privilege to have been up in the Arctic and been on the ice.
“So very few people get the opportunity to arrive at the North Pole on foot and it was an amazing feeling.
“I got goose pimples and shivers when I actually thought about standing on top of the world.
“When we got there we had just a few minutes on the pole and unfortunately I couldn’t call [anyone] as I left my phone in my outer jacket pocket and its battery had gone flat because of the cold.
“For me, the North Pole really is one of the most hostile places on the planet – it didn’t get above -20C all week.”
The climb up Everest will play a special part in Richard’s challenge – not only is it the highest peak in Asia, as the tallest in the world it is regarded as Earth’s third pole.
If he achieves everything he has set out to do, then he will become the first person to stand on the seven continental summits and three poles in the same calendar year.
Recently forced to retire due to injury, Richard was part of the Leeds rugby union team that won the Powergen Cup in 2005.
To support the fundraising, visit the www.737challenge.com website.
Collections in aid of the appeal will also take place at Leeds Carnegie’s final home game of the season, against Harlequins on Easter Sunday.