Tuesday, December 30, 2008

South Pole Unlimited = Polo Sur Sin Limites

The Spanish savings bank La Caixa's Social Service foundation is sponsoring a unique expedition to Antarctica. Called South Pole Unlimited, it is the world's first polar expedition made up of disabled individuals who will have no “external aides.” One of the adventurers is from madrid, Jesús Noriega, and the other two, Xavier Valbuena and Eric Villalón, are from Catalonia.
While there has been a bit about this in the Spanish media, I have been surprised to have not seen anything about it in the English language media. Perhaps that is because although the “La Caixa” Social Service foundation has an English language version of its website they seem quite behind on the translations of their releases.

The last English language press release of theirs I was able to find was something from last April about “La Caixa” leading a business alliance to collaborate with the GAVI Alliance on child vaccination. While that certainly was news worth releasing in any language, I counted 20 subsequent Spanish language press releases that have not had English language versions done. So, as my Christmas gift to the South Pole Unlimited expedition, below is my translation of the information about it that I found on the “La Caixa” Social Service website's press page. (By the way, “sin limites” could also be translated as “without limits” but I prefer the sound of “unlimited.”)

The world's first expedition of a group of people with physical disabilities who, without any type of external aid, will travel across 250 km of the Antarctic plain, one of the most inhospitable areas on the planet.

South Pole Unlimited.
“La Caixa” Social Service, the abilities of people with disabilities
Barcelona, 29 December, 2008
Jesús Noriega, Xavier Valbuena and Eric Villalón are the three team members with disabilities, who along with two expert polar guides, Ramón Larramendi and Ignacio Oficialdegui, will spend three weeks on the remote Antarctic plain, on the expedition South Pole Unlimited, organized by “La Caixa” Social Service. They will have to travel across 250 km, pulling a 60 kg sled, and withstanding temperatures of 40º C below zero and winds of 300 km /h.

Even more than overcoming their physical challenges — Jesus has been missing a hand since birth, Xavier lost a leg eight years ago and Eric only has 5% vision —, what has motivated them to participate in such a high-risk expedition is to demonstrate the ability that disabled people have to surmount any challenge.

In addition to a great sports challenge, the expedition will carry out a unique scientific project. For the first time, samples will be taken along the 250 km it takes to reach the geographical South Pole. The analyses of the data will provide evidence regarding levels of organic and inorganic contaminants, as well as confirmation of bacterial life trapped in the Antarctic ice. All of this data is of great relevance to the conservation of planet Earth.

In the 21st century the conquest of the South Pole continues to be a great challenge. Despite current technical advances, it is difficult to to live and to move around this frozen continent. It continues to be a place where the limits of human ability are put to the test.

Expedition members will leave Barcelona tomorrow, 30 December, bound for Punta Arenas [Chile] and from there they will go to the proximity of Patriot Hills, 88º S, the starting point for the objective of the geographical South Pole, latitude 90º S, where all lines of longitude meet.

South Pole Unlimited, “La Caixa” Social Service is an initiative in collaboration with the Social Integration and Environment Area of “La Caixa” Social Service. However, this project is not only a sports challenge, but also a social, human and scientific one, with the goal of demonstrating to society the abilities of people with disabilities.
¡Que les vayan bien!


P.S. In the video below, there are shots of expedition members practicing on Barceloneta beach.

1 comment:

Correne said...

Dear Carloz

Regarding your article about the SP Unlimited expedition and the English press, see an article on

Heads-up from Spanish team with special challenges to the South Pole



Happy New Year!