• The Curious Traveler

Boundless Journeys congratulates Grant Korgan, the first adaptive athlete to reach the Antarctic South Pole.


Boundless Journeys - Antarctica Trips - Grant Korgan
Grant Korgan

Boundless Journeys congratulates Grant Korgan, the first adaptive athlete to reach the Antarctic South Pole.

Just a few weeks ago, on January 17th, Grant Korgan succeeded as the first adaptive athlete in history to reach the Antarctic South Pole. The arrival of Korgan and his South Pole team coincided with the 100-year anniversary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition in 1912. Korgan, who became paralyzed in a snowmobiling accident in 2010, traversed 75-miles using a custom sit-ski.

After the first 10 pushes, Korgan stopped abruptly; pushing his sit-ski across the Antarctic ice felt like crossing Velcro, and he couldn’t believe the effort it required. “There was some doubt in my mind he could complete the journey,” teammate Stoup said. “The first 10 pushes were very hard. It hit me right away that it would take him a herculean effort to do it 12 days in a row, 10 hours a day.”

Temperatures loomed in the minus-mid-30s to as low as the minus-mid-50s with winds of 20 to 30 knots. Whiteouts enveloped the team for three days and half of a fourth, turning progress and navigation into acts of faith.

“My bones [were] clacking against each other. And you really can view this thing in any way you want,” Korgan said. “When I realized that I could see the beauty in any and all things, it brought another level of freedom.”

“I used affirmations to keep me moving forward,” Korgan said. “I began silently saying to myself, ‘I am strong, I am healthy, I am healed, and I am working toward my goal of reaching the South Pole.’ I eventually began to say these statements aloud and my teammates would often join me. Then, I said to myself daily, ‘Although my body has been broken in the past, my spirit never can be. I am unbreakable.’ ”

On the final morning, a clearing in the clouds appeared and the sun poured like a beacon onto the South Pole, dedicated by a group of flags and pole marker. About 100 feet away, Korgan got off his sit-ski, as teammates Fletcher and Stoup each gave up one ski and pole and affixed them to the feet of their friend. Then with a small crowd watching nearby – more than 150 scientists from the South Pole’s Amundsen-Scott research station – Korgan made it to the end, on his own, on his two paralyzed feet, Stoup said.

Korgan said he will remember reaching the South Pole as his greatest moment, second to his wedding with Shawna Korgan, who surprised him a quarter mile before the finish.

The overall purpose of the project was to make strides for spinal cord recovery and to support the High Fives Foundation, which helps adaptive winter athletes ideally get back on their feet and to their sport. “The Push” is also in support of The Reeve – Irvine Research Center, a science research facility at University of California, Irvine devoted to the study of repair, regeneration and recovery of function after spinal cord injury. And, of course, Korgan’s accomplishment serves as an inspiration to us all. In Grant Korgan’s words, “Every single person has the ability to do anything they want in this life.”

About Boundless Journeys
Boundless Journeys is an award-winning small group adventure tour operator. With a diverse collection of locally guided, small group itineraries and Private Collection trips around the world, Boundless Journeys offers “The World’s Great Adventures.” The adventure trips for 2-16 guests are active, ranging from leisurely cultural explorations and wildlife safaris to challenging trekking ― with plenty of easy to moderate walking and sea kayaking in between.


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