Trek to South Pole to benefit Cancer Society

In 2010, Guy Manning was part of a team that climbed Mount Vinson, Antarctica's highest peak. He'll be back on the continent next month to tackle the South Pole.

Guy Manning has scaled the highest peaks on all seven continents. He’s cycled the length of Great Britain and was part of a four-man team that crossed the United States.

But he has never skied cross-country.

He plans to learn while trekking to the South Pole.

“I’ll have a couple of days to practice before we leave,” he said, talking about his arrival next month at a base camp on the 89th parallel, 69 miles from the pole itself.

When he does leave, he will spend 12 days with a small group of adventurers slipping along the polar plateau to the southern tip of the globe and back. If he completes the trip, he’ll have taken the next-to-last step in the Explorers Grand Slam, with only a journey to the North Pole left to do.

He will also have raised more money for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.

Starting with his 2013 climb of Mount Everest, where he raised $100,000 for the local charity, Mr. Manning has turned his adventures into fundraising efforts for the Cancer Society. He is currently chairman of the board for the organization.

“It’s much more rewarding to do it for charitable causes. It makes it a much more worthwhile endeavor,” Mr. Manning said.

His expedition to Denali in 2016 raised another $100,000. Smaller amounts came from the cycling events. He hopes to reach the $100,000 mark again with his trek to the South Pole.

Jennifer Weber, operations manager of the Cancer Society, said the money Mr. Manning has raised makes a sizeable impact on the support the charity can provide for cancer patients. The organization is operating on a $400,000 budget this year, she said.

“Every time he does one of these things, it’s huge fundraising for us,” Ms. Weber said, as well as being attention grabbing. “It absolutely raises awareness of what we do and gets the word out.”

She said the need for the charity’s services is growing.

“When Guy climbed Mount Everest, we had 56 financial aid patients,” Ms. Weber said. “[Three] years later, when he completed the seven summits, I think we had more than double that. Now we have about 400 patients.”

It has become popular in recent years to tie charitable fundraising to adventure-oriented events. Organizers of an upcoming kiteboard race from Little Cayman to Grand Cayman are hoping to raise about $200,000 for the Cancer Society, Ms. Weber said.

“You can take anything you love and use it to help others,” she said.

Mr. Manning, she said, has done even more. He first approached the Cancer Society before his Everest climb.

“His mother had breast cancer and he reached out to us,” she said. “The next thing we knew, he was volunteering.”

Mr. Manning said being involved in the charity provides added motivation. When he climbed Everest, he carried a list of all of the patients that were being helped by the Cancer Society at that time. He plans to carry a similar list to the South Pole.

“When you’re having a tough moment and you need a little bit extra to keep you going, it’s good to have that,” he said.

He may have plenty of such moments. The temperature at the South Pole in January rarely climbs above -13 degrees Fahrenheit. Windchill, which is common, can bring that down to -40 F. Mr. Manning and his teammates will be wearing special masks that warm the air and keep their lungs from being damaged by the freezing air.

The expedition will be trekking for 10 hours each day, with the team members each hauling a sled with their gear behind them.

It’s hard work, Mr. Manning said, but it cannot be too hard. The effort has to be below a level that causes one to sweat, he said, because the sweat will quickly freeze and contribute to hypothermia. He also worries about frostbite, having suffered damage from his climb on Everest.

The trip, he said, is costing him $63,000.

Successful completion of the expedition, will leave only the North Pole standing between him and membership in the elite Grand Slam club. There are just 63 people who have climbed the highest summits on all seven continents and reached both poles.

Ms. Weber said she wonders what Mr. Manning will do for an encore.

“I suspect he’ll be calling in a couple of months to say, ‘I’m going to Mars.’”

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