David Hempleman-Adams was born in Swindon, Wiltshire, in 1956 and educated at Writhlington
Comprehensive School. He is a graduate from Manchester and a post-graduate from Bristol. He
received an Honorary Doctorate from University of Leicester.
He is a Director of three companies and a Trustee of The Mitchemp Trust.
His interest in expeditioning began through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, of which he is a Gold medallist. He is an accomplished mountaineer, having climbed some of the highest mountains in the world, including Everest (Nepal), Mt Vinson (Antarctica), Aconcagua (Argentina), Carstenz Pyramid (Indonesia), Elbrus (Russia), Kilimanjaro(Tanzania). He was a member of the team which in 1981 achieved one of the fastest ascents of Mt McKinley (Alaska).
In 1983 he attempted a solo expedition to the Geographical North Pole, the attempt failed when, after 230 miles, he cracked several ribs and had to watch his food supplies dwindle whilst sitting out a severe ten-day storm. In 1984 he was the first person to successfully complete a solo expedition to the Magnetic North Pole without the support of dogs, snow mobiles or air supplies. In 1992 he led the first team to walk unsupported to the North Geomagnetic Pole. In all he has led several Arctic expeditions and is only the third Briton to have climbed all seven continental summits.
On January 5th 1996 he became the first Briton to walk solo and unsupported to the South Pole.
On February 19th 1996 he sailed to the South Magnetic Pole, becoming the first person to do so in the same year.
On May 15th he led the Ultimate Challenge, a team of novices, to ski to the Magnetic North Pole, gaining some notable firsts. Again becoming the only person to ever reach both North and South Magnetic Poles in one year.
In early March 1998 David set off on a 600 mile journey which would place him in the record books as one of the most successful all-round adventurers the world has ever seen. Facing wind-chill down to minus 90 centigrade, he man-hauled his sledge to the North Pole across the constantly shifting ice of the frozen Arctic Ocean. His success ended a 15 year odyssey and placed him in the history record books as the first person to complete the explorers’ Grand Slam, a challenge which has seen him conquer the North and South Magnetic Poles, become the first Briton to walk solo and unsupported to the South Pole; walk solo to the North Geographic Pole and scale the highest mountain in each of the seven continents, including Everest.
It was during the long hours of trekking across the frozen Arctic Ocean to the North Geographic Pole in 1998 that he hatched the idea of flying solo in a hot air balloon with open wicker basket over the Andes range of mountains, yet another record breaking solo attempt.
And so in December 1998, with only 30 hours of flying experience, David Hempleman-Adams took off in the Typhoo Challenger hot air balloon with open wicker basket from a polo field in Chile. The balloon rose to more than 32,000 ft before catching westerly winds that blew it into Argentina - the total journey lasting 5½ hours.
The first indication the record had fallen came in a brief radio message received by support staff when he gave his position to the east of the Andes. “Welcome to Argentinian airspace” one of his ground crew said.
On 1st June 2000 David became the first person to solo pilot a balloon to the North Pole – The Britannic Challenge. In so doing he set a number of ballooning records, including longest solo flight by a British balloonist at 132 hours; distance record for the Arctic at 1400 kms to the North Pole ring and 2451 km total; first balloonist to fly solo to the North Pole and first balloonist to fly solo across the Arctic Ocean. An attempt was made in 1897 to reach the North Pole by Swedish explorer Salomon Andrée but it ended in disaster when the balloon was forced to crash land on the ice. For David the Britannic Challenge was a personal battle against the elements using a blend of human endurance with traditional ballooning equipment and supported by Luc Trullemans, weather forecaster, from the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium. After a terrifying landing on the ice David said “In a lifetime of adventure, I’ve never known such an experience. If I had known what I was going to put myself through before embarking on this trip, I might have thought twice about it.”
Although a relatively novice balloonist in comparison to his Arctic experiences he is considered one of the best explorers in the world.
His ballooning records to date:
* December 1998 flight from Santiago, Chile to Argentina - First British crossing, and first solo hot air balloon flight across the Andes
* May 1999 first British hot air balloon flight in the Arctic, also longest duration and distance record held, plus first crossing of the North West Passage.
* 2nd June 2000
- greatest distance British solo flight in a balloon
- British solo duration record
- duration record for a Roziere-90 balloon
- distance record from land for an Arctic flight
- duration record for an Arctic flight
- first flight in a balloon from land over the North Pole
on 13th February 2001 Guinness World Records recognised David’s achievement of being first person to fly a balloon from land to the North Pole.
David Hempleman-Adams has over ten honours and awards for his adventures.