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2:40 PM 26th May 2020

At Home With Brad Parsk - Yorkshire's Famous Explorer

We chat with award-winning explorer Brad Parsk about his wild adventures, his life in lockdown, and why exploration is essential for humankind.

Brad Parsk is one man who knows a thing or two about adventure. Born and raised in a quiet surburb of Leeds, Brad's exploits have taken him across the world in search of the incredible. From canoeing his way across Canada and facing grizzly bears in Alaska to discovering ancient tombs in China and navigating across the arctic with only a team of huskies for company, Parsk's slow-and-steady rise to fame has kept him grounded, likeable, and still firmly in touch with his Yorkshire roots.

Yorkshire Times (YT): Hi Brad. Can we firstly say that you have an utterly insane CV. How can anyone not be impressed by your accomplishments?

Parsk: Ha ha, thanks. I can't say that all of it has been intentional. Take being stalked by a bear, for example. One doesn't step out into the Alaskan wilderness with the intention of squaring up to a 1 tonne predator, but it certainly makes for an engaging tale at the local.

YT: So glad you survived! So, tell us... how does a person go about becoming an explorer?

Parsk: I don't think there's a set career path. You just have to get out there and do it. I've always believed that if you want something badly enough you'll find a way to make it happen.

YT: Some of your expeditions have really pushed you to the limit. Aren't you ever worried about, well, dying?

Parsk: I've been called "the explorer with nine lives". By my reckoning, I've already used up 5 of them - so I'm certainly no stranger to close calls. But I think that if you want to accomplish something great - something never done before - then it's important to recognise and accept the inherent risks that go along with that. By nature, I'm not a careless person; everything I do is risk-assessed.

YT: I just read that you had your latest "close call" only 2 months ago, in the arctic. What happened?

Parsk: It was towards the end of my solo dogsledding expedition. I'd already covered over 400 miles across Norway, Finland and Sweden when I was faced with navigating the Kebnekaise mountain range. With precipitous cliff edges only a few feet to my right, the dogs were pulling the sled along as I'm trying desperately to balance myself on these heavily cambered slopes while the polar winds are thrashing us at temperatures of minus 40. One wrong move and you are over the edge and into oblivion. It didn't help that I was sleep deprived, exhausted and suffering a dislocated shoulder. For a moment, I didn't think we'd make it.

YT: What a frightening combination of elements to face!

Parsk: Precisely. I was so pleased when I had completed the trip, although looking back there were some superb moments and memories made. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

YT: The average person might have a hard time understanding why anyone would choose to put themselves through such hardships. Can you give us an insight?

Parsk: It's the essence of exploration! Think Sir Edmund Hillary, Ernest Shackleton, Neil Armstrong: these men push the boundaries of what is considered possible. We'll always need that small number of unique people that aspire to go beyond. Without that, as a species we would simply go stale resting on our laurels. Exploration has pushed humanity forward in so many ways. Could you imagine, in 2020, living in a world where nobody had summitted Everest, set foot on the moon, or discovered Machu Picchu?

YT: Fair point. I guess it's all about discovery and advancement of human knowledge. So what have you been doing to keep busy during lockdown?

Parsk: Keeping fit, mainly. I have some woodland right on my doorstep and so I've been doing lots of jogging around there. But I also have a vast collection of travel and exploration books and have been using these as inspiration for future adventures. An Amazonian expedition is on the cards. Legend has it, somewhere in the Peruvian Amazon lies the lost city of Paititi - the last stronghold of the Incas.

YT: Really? Do you believe there are many such lost cities still remaining to be found?

Parsk: Oh, absolutely. In the early 1900's we said, with great bravado, that there was nothing else to discover. Look at the progress we've made since then! Only a few years ago, a wonderful site in Honduras was uncovered - the lost city of the monkey god.

YT: You've been considered one of the last few remaining explorers in the classic mould. How does that make you feel?

Parsk: It's an honour. There are a fair few modern explorers kicking about - and it's a small world so we all tend to know each other. But there aren't too many that still use the traditional gear and equipment. Most head off with a GPS, satellite phone, bleeping and flashing instruments... I don't do all that. My life is an homage to the brave men and women of the Victorian era, and I want to feel and experience what those early explorers felt. Some may call it foolhardy. I call it being genuine. I rely on skill rather than electronics.

YT: All this seems like a far cry from your humble Yorkshire roots. After spending a third of your life abroad and travelling over 50 countries, what keeps you coming back to God's county?

Parsk: While nowhere is perfect, Yorkshire is my home and my birthplace. It has so many redeeming features - the beautiful Dales, York Minster, the eastern coastline, the friendly folk. And sometimes, you know, it's the little things you miss when you're away: fish and chips, pie and peas, real ale, or cosying up to a roaring fire with a cup of tea and listening to the gentle pitter-patter of rain outside. This is the Yorkshire I know.

YT: Thanks for your time.

Parsk: My pleasure.

To learn more about Brad, visit www.bradparsk.com
You can also connect with him via Twitter: @BradParsk