New “handisport” adventure

Expedition News-Official Website

From 30.03.2008 to 20.04.2008 - Status: success

Adventure in Spitzberg

Adventure in Spitzberg

© International Polar Foundation

Between 12th April and 5th May, a handicapped adventurer and two French students will strap on their cross-country skis and cover 200 km about a thousand kilometres away from the North Pole. They will attempt to scale Newtontoppen, a peak situated to the north-east of Longyearbyen, the capital of Spitsbergen.

The person who lays behind the project is Gérard Troadec, whose foot was amputated over ten years ago. Born in 1947 of Breton stock, this master-locksmith nearing retirement age is married and father to three children. Without them, he confided to us, he would never have been able to recover so quickly from the 1996 climbing accident that cost him his right foot. An adventure enthusiast since an early age, Gérard's achievements both before and after the amputation include competing in a number of high mountain events, including Mont-Blanc in 1996 and the crossing from Chamonix to Zermatt (Switzerland) in the Alps in 2006. With two previous polar excursions to his credit – Lapland on skis in 1995 and Spitsbergen in a kayak in 2003 – he brings all of his experience and knowledge to his team on this new adventure. Spurred on by his desire to "do what I used to be able to do before", Gérard very much feels he is ready to take on this exciting challenge.

To enable this expedition to take place, the students at France's Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Arts et Métiers (ENSAM) created an association named after their university, "Expé Arts et Métiers", with the aim of putting together a handisport expedition to Spitsbergen in April 2008.

Gérard Troadec is taking two companions along with him on this particular trip: Alexandre Chabaud, president of the association and a student engineer, and Nicolas Moulis, the association's secretary and youngest member of the expedition. Their job will be to provide Gérard with assistance as the trio climbs Newtontoppen.

The driving force behind the project

"The driving force behind the project is the idea that a person with a serious handicap can achieve exceptional things in the same way as any other person. The way we three see it as student engineers and organisers, the desire of sharing and giving something to others, which we developed during our training at ENSAM, takes on a whole new dimension when it comes to combating generally accepted ideas.
As future engineers, the trip is part of a broader ‘Handimanagement' project that is aimed at making the business leaders of tomorrow aware of the day-to-day problems associated with having a handicap in the working world. But even more than that is our desire to demonstrate that when faced with certain challenges, physical inequalities fade away and leave only the challenge of a person pitting themselves against their willpower. And what better way of proving your own abilities is there than going up against the full force of Nature? By demonstrating that a person with a handicap is capable of achieving great things, we will show that they can also cope with the everyday things in life with equal success."

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