NO obstacle, not even frostbite could have stopped a Cromhall explorer from her fulfilling a life-long dream of reaching the South Pole.
When Hazel Richards, 51, set off for the 111-mile trek before Christmas she did not expect the journey to be smooth. But what she really did not expect was to be sent back to the ANI Union Glacier Camp after six days due to respiratory problems.
Yet, she pulled through and, the minute she recovered, flew to the geographic centre of the South Pole to meet the rest of the expedition party and finish what she had started.
"I had shortness of breath, bronchitis and got frostbite in my nose," the financial adviser told the Gazette.
"I got so close and had to come back to the camp. But I carried on. Most people would have just gone back. My goal was to get to the geographic centre of the South Pole."
Hazel and her nine team members were led by famous explorer David Hempleman-Adams, OBE in their undertaking.
She added: "I covered 44 km. I did struggle to breath. You start hyperventilating and feel your lungs are closing down. After four days of reacclimatization in the camp I flew to the geographic centre."
An adventurer at heart, she took part in a five-day trek across the Arctic Circle last year and experienced temperatures of minus 20. But this was nothing compared to what she was confronted with this time.
She said: "The Arctic was a walk in the park in comparison. It was amazing finally getting to the South Pole. There is absolutely nothing, no animals, except a research centre. We got to see what the scientists’s there were working on."
Hazel has raised just under £1,000 so far for various local charities including Acorns Children’s Hospice, The Mitchemp Trust, St Peter’s Hospice and The Eve Appeal.
And she is hoping to collect even more funds for the organisations.
The winter sports aficionado will swell up the coffers by taking part in the 26-mile Endigan Ski Marathon in Switzerland in March.
She is also thinking about her next daunting challenge.
She added: "I would like to go to the North Pole in the future. It will also be difficult. You have to be careful because of the polar bears and you can cover ten kilometres and then find in the morning that you have gone back ten because the ice has moved."
Hazel was sponsored by local companies such as Bailey Balloons, Johnson Fleming, Four Pillars Hotel in Tortworth Court and DAS, who helped pay for the expedition.
To donate or sponsor Hazel's future endeavours visit www.hazelrichards.com