Disabled Explorer Martin Hewitt Summits Mt. Vinson After 50 Day Trek to South Pole

An important step in Hewitt’s mission to become the first-ever disabled person to complete the Explorers Grand Slam

Feature type Story

Read time 4 mins

Published Jan 14, 2022

Base editorial team
BASE editorial team BASE writers and editors who live and breathe adventure every day. We love adventure storytelling as much as we love adventure itself.

Martin Hewitt, founder of accessible exploring charity, Adaptive Grand Slam (AGS) and Louis Rudd MBE, Director of Expeditions at Shackleton, have successfully summited Mount Vinson – the highest peak in Antarctica – following 50 days trekking unsupported, unassisted to the South Pole. 

The ascent of Mount Vinson (4892m) having reached the South Pole just days prior, means that BASE Collective member Hewitt is within just one summit of achieving his goal of becoming the first person with a disability to complete the Adaptive Grand Slam, an adaptation of the infamous Explorers Grand Slam to climb the highest peak on every continent and walk to both poles.

‘The whole route was amazing. And as we got up towards the summit ridge, we were then greeted with a whole new visual on a completely different aspect of the range that we hadn’t seen before. Absolutely fantastic,’ says Martin.

‘We got to the summit, and then really an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. There’s so many people behind the scenes who’ve made this happen for both of us on this expedition… And this man here with me, he’s got me to the Pole, I’ve learned a hell of a lot off Lou. For an old man, he’s a pretty strong lad.’

And this man here with me, he’s got me to the Pole, I’ve learned a hell of a lot off Lou. For an old man, he’s a pretty strong lad’

In 2007 Hewitt sustained a life-changing injury during military service with the Parachute Regiment, resulting in paralysis of his right arm. Through, the Adaptive Grand Slam expeditions, Hewitt aims to raise funds for the AGS Foundation, established to select, train and develop disabled teams to empower them to tackle extreme expeditions and challenges. To date, these expeditions have seen Hewitt and a team of disabled adventurers overcome adversity to summit the tallest peaks on every continent and trek to the Poles, and inspire others with life-long injuries and disabilities to achieve their potential. 

On this penultimate phase of the AGS, Hewitt and Rudd had initially set off to reach the South Pole from the land edge of Antarctica – a total distance of 1,000 kilometres unsupported and unassisted. But while trekking and dragging a 95KG pulk, Hewitt suffered a debilitating achilles tendon injury which forced the pair to diverge from their original plan and seek medical attention at Union Glacier. 

Overcoming adversity and injury, the challenge was resumed and Hewitt and Rudd returned to trek to the pole from the ‘Last Degree’ – the 60 nautical miles which mark the last latitude of distance to the South Pole from 89° South – skiing a total of over 650 kilometres in 50 days. 

Having now completed expeditions to both The North and South Poles and climbed six of the seven summits, Indonesia’s Carstensz Pyramid is the final expedition to complete the Adaptive Grand Slam, which Martin plans to attempt in 2022. You can keep up with AGS expeditions here.

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