Ben Weber has braved the pain of severe frostbite, skiing on sheet thin ice and a fear of heights to tick off a childhood craving for adventure.
But four years spent tackling mountains in Bolivia, skiing in some of Canada’s coldest climes and biking in the searing heat were just a training programme for the explorer and partner, Natalia Almeida.
Next December they aim to set take on The 360 Extremes Expedition - a pole to pole journey over land and ice.
They hope to start from Sao Paolo or London and tackle the South Pole, before heading to the tricker glaciers and mammal life on the North Pole.
Noone has ever undertaken the venture aside from Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who led the sole team to have done anything similar during his Transglobe Expedition
He is now patron of the project.
Below are eight things we learned about adventure travel during his trip to E14.
1. Global adventures help you break the monotony of London living
Ben said: “I moved to Sao Paulo 10 years ago - I started to get into the standard city lifestyle.
“I had a comfortable lifestyle, my wife and I had OK job, but when you’re comfortable, there’s little incentive to take big risks to change things as you settle into a daily routine.
“We felt there was something else, so started thinking about what we could do to change our lifestyle, like cycling sabbaticals or a trip to China.”
2. It can prompt - or excel - a fitness regime
“Two years ago - I didn’t know how to ski
“Now one of my favourite things to do is climbing because it’s challenging both physically and mentally.
“For the past four years training for the North and South poles it’s been lots of physical activity, in the gym, pulling tyres, pulling sledges, CrossFit and long-distance runs.”
3. Mix up your adventures
“I’m terrified of heights - but we climbed a mountain in Bolivia which was 2,000 metres above sea level.
“The majority of our next journey we plan to be cycling, so we cycled from Lands’ End to John O’Groats, in winter, for an extra challenge.
“We know we are going to be going through different conditions so the British winter was perfect - windy, rainy, snow and hail - just generally miserable, dark conditions.
"Then last year, we did the same in the heat, and cycled from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires in heat of more than 44 degrees Celsius.”
4. You don’t have to go to the North Pole for an expedition in polar conditions
“Going to Batan Island in Canada for a 3,000km journey from Emerson to Resolution Bay, 24 hours of every day was a learning experience.
“Just below Churchill, it was -53 degrees Celcius.
“And you can’t map solid ice, it moves around slowly and although you are given training beforehand, it changes all the time.”
5. Improvisation en-route is key
Ben said the pair had used the reflection in the Hudson Bay to navigate northwards instead of both a GPS, which quickly ran out of battery, and a compass which would have meant taking off their warm mittens in freezing climes.
They also had to beware not to overheat in sleeping bags.
The sweat would quickly freeze inside the bag and make it heavy.
Frostbite, said Ben, was “the most painful experience ever” as he told how he melted ice to fire up the stove which then provided warmth to his freezing hands.
It probably saved his thumbs, too.
And if you fall into freezing cold water?
“You’ve got to run around or else you will get hypothermia,” he said.
“In the North Pole expedition recently, two guys fell in but they got out and did exactly that.
“The more experience you have, the more chance of success you will have in future expeditions.”
6. You could make new pals
“You do meet some great people,” he said.
“In Canada on Christmas Day we got invited by a family to stay with them and they treated us just like family.
“On Boxing Day we were cycling and a guy drove past us and invited us for lunch - he showed us the guitars he made from moose horns and baseball bats and it gave us a glimpse of what people do in isolated climates.”
7. Or cement your relationship
“In Tundra, there were days when we were tent bound because of the snow.
“But there’s only so much to do inside a tent when it’s cold.
“So you make a lot of small talk and games like ‘actresses beginning with A, actors who begin with A.'
“You’ve got to keep your mind occupied.
“And when we were stuck on the ice in Churchill, it was where we felt like giving it all up.
“It’s that psychological side and getting through the dark moments.
“The six-month trip was everything we wanted - it’ opened up whole new windows of opportunities and possibilities for both of us.
“We’ve had a massive amount of preparation and experience of being in polar conditions on a long expedition.
“We are ready now and prepared to go on the full expedition - and both of us feel our chances of success with both the South and North Poles are very high.”
8. It can make you feel good
“This has helped us to go on and believe in ourselves and make our goals successful.
“It’s the same in day-to-day life - if you get through a demanding thing or achieve a dream it increases your own confidence and chances of making an aim successful.
“If you have a dream and think you can’t do it - you can.”