“We are the middle children of history. Born to late to explore the earth, born to early to explore the galaxy.”
Within the past 2 years, Ash Dykes showed us all that the novel frontiers of exploration and adventurous world-firsts are still fair game. In 2014 – Ash became the first person ever to walk across Mongolia solo & unsupported, over the Altai Mountains, Gobi Desert & Mongolian Steppe, covering 1,500 miles in 78 days. Then, this year – Ash became the first person ever to traverse Madagascar’s length through its interior, taking on 8 of the highest mountains on the fourth largest island in the world, 1,600 miles in 155 days.
“I applaud every endeavour to achieve an adventuring ‘first’, a feat which is becoming harder all the time. This young man’s completion of a ‘first’ solo trek across Mongolia, from the Altai to the Steppe, will have proved both physically & mentally challenging & is an example of great determination”
— Sir Ranulph Fiennes
Ash Dykes is a 25 year old Welshman from a small seaside town of Colwyn Bay in the north of Wales. His life as a passionate adventurer seems to have began the moment he jumped on a plane at 19 years of age to explore what was out there in the world. Before Ash would be known through his inspirational and challenging world firsts, his earliest exploits of exploration and adversity took place all around the world through various tests of adventure:
- Cycling Cambodia & the length of Vietnam (1130 miles – 15 days)
- Trekking the Himalayas in North India
- Cycling a segment of Australia (700 miles – 13 days)
- Learning to survive in the jungle with a Burmese Hill Tribe
- Cycled the length of Britain for charity (985 miles – 7days)
- Walked 200 miles across Wales during the winter
- Trekked alone through the Alps during winter
- Worked as a scuba diving instructor for two years in Thailand
It is here you can see the grand picture being drawn. A self-made adventurer who left the nest and quickly formulated an impressive portfolio of adventure and life lessons worthy of a single man’s lifetime. So in this age of the middle children of history – Perhaps man can no longer set sail for places that have yet to have been named or claimed by nation states. But this age of ours allows for something much greater in my opinion – On this day, it’s never been easier to explore our planet and traverse the challenging landscapes of foreign lands. Ash’s exploits showcase the legacy we can all leave behind if we put our minds to something in a truly inspiring way.
2014 – MONGOLIA
“On the 5th of August 2014, Ash Dykes became the first recorded person to complete a solo & unsupported walk across Mongolia.”
On the 20th May 2014 at 7:30am local time, Ash departed from the small settlement of Ulgii on Mongolia’s western border with Russia before arriving in Choybalsan on Mongolia’s easterly border with China 78 days later. (knocking off a substantial 22 days off his predicted time!) This feat becomes even more impressive when you consider the logistical solution he improvised for his supplies. Ash had his friend build him a home-made trailer which would become his mobile life capsule. This home-made trailer would be dragged the entire way and held the dehydrated food ration packs, large water butt and living equipment he needed on this vast expedition. 120kg of supplies!
“Sometimes I feel like the cart has square wheels and weighs 400kg!”
— Ash Dykes
2015 – MADAGASCAR
“On February 2016 – Ash became the first person ever to traverse Madagascar’s length, through its interior taking on eight of the highest mountains on the fourth largest island in the world, trekking 1,600 miles in 155 days.”
September 7th 2015 – Ash arrived at Cape Sainte Marie on the southern tip of Madagascar looking onwards towards his next challenge. A 2,900 kilometre mission which would see Ash traversing Madagascar’s deserts, rainforests and mountains through the Island’s interior.
Ash’s feat was more profound in purpose this time around; His challenge also had a scientific purpose as he had teamed up with the Lemur Conservation Network:
“As I trek across Madagascar, I will help the Lemur Conservation Network by raising awareness about Madagascar’s unique biodiversity…and to share stories about the people working on the ground in Madagascar to protect lemurs and other wildlife and their habitat.”
This expedition would turn out to be the hardest and most demanding challenge Ash has ever untaken. Notably due to Ash being hit by the most deadly strain of Malaria halfway through this expedition. When Ash fell ill, he was carried to the nearest city where his Doctor thought he had just hours to live – However, after five days of medical attention and recovery he bounced back from the life-threatening disease, returned to his feet and proceeded to succeed with his record-breaking walk.
“It’s pushed me to extreme limits and I’ve stared death in the face on a number of occasions, but I endured and persevered through the pain to the finish.”
WHATS NEXT FOR ASH DYKES?
He won’t tell me. Cards firmly held to the chest, he ends our talk with:
“But I’ll tell you now – That it will be a beast of an expedition!”
— Ash Dykes on his next challenge