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Yalie hopes to set speed record for skiing to the South Pole

As his peers buckle down for the end of the semester, Yale sophomore Parker Liautaud is skipping class for an expedition in the Southern hemisphere.

Not to worry, though: it's a research expedition. To the South Pole. On skis.

Liautaud, a 19-year-old geology and geophysics major, has already made three treks to the North Pole. Now, with corporate sponsorship from the global risk advisor Willis Group, he and a fellow explorer are skiing 397 miles from the Ross Ice Shelf, on the southern coast of Antarctica, to the South Pole.

"I have to be prepared to pull a sled that weighs approximately 180 pounds for 12 hours a day for nearly a month," Liautaud tells the Daily Mail.

He hopes to cover the distance in 22 days, which would set a world speed record and would make him the youngest male to ski to the South Pole.

Although the sun never sets in that region at this time of year, the expedition is not all games and sunshine for Liautaud. Before setting off on skis across the Trans-Arctic Mountains, he helped collect snow samples from the Antarctic Peninsula, "one of the fastest-warming parts of the planet," in hopes of contributing to public understanding of climate change.

The goal, Liautaud explains, is to "try to improve public understanding of the climate system, which will hopefully lead to better-informed policy."

After that, January in New Haven should be a snap.

Filed under Parker Liautaud, South Pole, climate change
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