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I kayaked 2,000 miles along the Amazon...
I walked a high wire between chimneys at Battersea Power Station...
This time around, I'm going to be taking on
my most physically-demanding challenge to date.
I will be attempting to get to the South Pole
entirely under my own steam and taking everything I need with me.
I'll be walking, kite skiing and, in a world first,
trying to cycle part of my route to the Pole.
It's the coldest and windiest place on Earth.
Temperatures drop to as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius.
I have no idea how people do this.
Honestly. Argh! Argh!
I don't want to play any more. This is just so frustrating.
So far, for her Sport Relief Challenge,
Helen's travelled to California,
to train on her specially-adapted ice bike...
-She's put her kite skills to the test in New Zealand...
..and she's seen how Sport Relief money helps poor and vulnerable
children in Sierra Leone.
In today's programme, Helen travels to Iceland,
to learn how to survive in the extreme cold.
You couldn't put a tent up on your own. I certainly couldn't.
Terrible weather conditions
give her a real taste of what's to come in Antarctica.
I can honestly say, this is the most unpleasant experience of my life.
And she meets the Norwegian team-mate
she'll be travelling with on her 500-mile journey to the South Pole.
Today is a big day for Helen.
She's come to Heathrow to meet her team-mate for the first time.
'I think it's just dawned on me that I'm about to meet a guy
'I'll be spending Christmas and New Year with, in a tent.
'I've never met him. He might think I'm an idiot.
'I might think he's an idiot.'
Helen's still learning the skills she'll use to get to the South Pole,
so she needs a team-mate who can help if she gets into difficulties.
I've got a photograph to help me find Niklas.
I've obviously looked him up on the internet,
but every picture of him, he's got a facemask on!
Hopefully, I'll be able to recognise him.
Niklas Norman is a kite skiing world champion,
with over 20 years' experience.
He's travelled across some of the coldest places on Earth
and in 2005, he recorded the fastest-ever distance
set by a kite skier in a 24-hour period.
What do you say to someone you've never met, but have to get on with?
I'd better like him. I can't walk away.
I am going to be with him for the next few months.
I think I've seen him. He's tall and he's blond.
And there ARE skis. That's got to be him, hasn't it?
Hello! You must be Niklas?
-Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you, finally.
I was looking for skis. Oh, you have skis.
-Shall we check in and go to Iceland?
-Yes, let's do that.
We've just met. Why wouldn't we go to Iceland together(?)
Helen has the determination and enthusiasm to keep going
day after day on her 500-mile journey to the South Pole.
Niklas knows how to survive in freezing temperatures
and kite ski long distances.
This should make them the perfect team.
I'm quite excited now. I was really nervous before,
but he seems really nice.
They're flying to Iceland to train on glaciers,
where they'll learn how to survive in the extreme cold.
Sitting just below the Arctic Circle, it's the perfect place
to get a feel for what they could face in the Antarctic.
Helen and Niklas are joining other South Pole hopefuls
on a training course, run by Conrad Dickinson.
He's the only British person to have completed a "polar grand slam",
by reaching North and South Poles and crossing Greenland, unsupported.
There's nothing he doesn't know about surviving the most extreme
-environments on Earth.
-They're going to the coldest, harshest,
most extreme environment in the world and we've got to give them
the core skills to deal with that.
They've got just 48 hours to get to grips with putting up tents,
lighting stoves, navigation and kit,
before being put to the test on a glacier.
But action girl Helen doesn't like being cooped up in the classroom.
With strong winds predicted,
if she does not pay attention, she could live to regret it.
The weather forecast is showing... 27 metres per second,
which is 93 kilometres per hour,
which is roughly 60 miles per hour.
The only protection Helen and Niklas will have
against the harsh conditions of Antarctica
is their tent. Without it, they can't get warm,
melt snow to cook their food, rest or see to injuries.
In temperatures of -50, the longer it takes them
to put up their shelter,
the greater the risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
It is vital they learn how to put the tent up quickly and efficiently.
It is a faff, but...
-Technically, one person should be...
-..at this end.
'You will be putting up the tent for the first time
'in some really horrendous conditions.
'So if you haven't been listening to me or if get something wrong,'
you'll have a problem tomorrow night.
My brain is scrambled.
Today, we have talked about illnesses, injuries...
It's just a totally alien environment.
-So there is a lot to take in.
-OK, just release these now.
I think I have got the basics,
but I don't know if I've got enough to survive!
-Are you happy with that, Helen?
Helen and Niklas are heading to the glacier,
where they'll spend two days setting camp, cross-country skiing
and learning rescue techniques.
But as the trucks reach the start of the glacier, there's a problem.
Melting snow makes for very slow progress.
We have been on this bus for hours now, haven't we?
It was fun, at first.
I am feeling seasick, to be honest.
What's basically happened is, there's been a little warm snap.
It's melted the snow, and there's thousands and thousands of gallons
of water gushing off the glacier. Conditions are just horrendous.
Because we're going on an uncharted route with a vehicle,
there's a chance of crevasses. We haven't got a very good situation.
-If we fell into a crevasse...
-With the car?
-Probably, if it happens, we would probably
-more tip into it, not like we're falling freefall...
..and then crash in the bottom of the crevasse.
It will be more be that some of the wheels or the front of the truck
will...dip down in the crevasse. That is all.
Oh, if that's the worst case scenario, that's fine, then!
Why are you smirking, Niklas?
When things get really, really
terrible or uncomfortable and bad, then I get in a bad mood.
-But then when it gets even worse, I start laughing.
It's so hilariously bad.
Finally, they get to the top - where things are even worse.
The storm Conrad predicted has hit, with blizzards and 60mph winds.
This is on the edge of what we're capable of putting up a tent up on.
It really is pushing the limits here.
So we're going build this wall, a really big substantial wall.
Then all of us are going to put one tent up behind it.
-Is that clear?
So, let's get the wall built as quick as we can
and get the first tent up.
You feel totally useless, because you can hardly move around.
You've got so much stuff on - boots, gloves, jacket.
It's taking six people to keep control of the tent in the wind,
but in Antarctica, Helen and Niklas
will only have each other to rely on, whatever the weather.
You couldn't put a tent up in this on your own. I certainly couldn't.
If I was on my own, I would have left by now.
The only reason you stay is the banter from everybody else.
This is about as bad as it gets.
Helen and Niklas and everybody else
have been very shocked by these conditions.
It's not going to be like this in Antarctica, though, is it?
-Not wet, but it might be this strong wind.
The big problem everybody has got is that people are not moving
decisively enough and quickly enough.
And because it's the first time they have ever put up a tent,
also, they're not quite sure what they've got to do.
Because of the wind, you have got a communication problem.
I haven't experienced much worse weather than this, to be honest.
It's quite serious.
The tent is finally up
and Helen and Niklas can get some rest from the wind.
But now they need to get organised, which is easier said than done.
It is fair to say that it is big chaos in the tent.
We don't know where much is and now everything is chaos.
-Is it something we still can't find?
-Yeah, the stove.
And you've broken your spork.
It's the morning after their first night in the tent,
and still, there's no let-up with the weather.
Oh, my word!
Oh, where on earth is our stuff? I don't want to play any more!
It's blowing at about 80 kilometres per hour.
But worst of all, last night, the temperature was zero.
So everything's soaking, soaking wet. This morning, it's got colder.
And the wet clothes are frozen. What I'm wearing now,
it's like a suit of armour.
Everything's so hard to deal with.
Helen struggles with being organised at the best of times,
but the blizzard conditions are making things almost impossible.
The zip is totally frozen solid. I can't move it up, can't move it down.
And there's a worrying sign.
Helen's shivering, and can't find her gloves.
Take that lid off.
Can I take these wet ones off now? They're freezing.
I don't have any.
No, they're mine.
Conrad shouted at me for not having my mitts on. They're here somewhere,
but I don't know where.
We haven't got time to look for things, just look at the weather.
I'm so cold!
My toes and my fingers just really stink of the cold.
This can only be described as a baptism of fire.
Helen has got no experience of this sort of stuff before.
She came up to me. Her hands were frozen cold.
I had to give her my spare pair of mitts.
She'd lost her climbing harness.
Niklas, have you used an ice crew and a harness for something?
-I can't remember.
-It was buried in the snow.
I had to dig it out for her.
She's jammed the tent zips. Cold hands, she couldn't undo the zips.
Thank you, Conrad. I can honestly say,
this is the most unpleasant experience of my life.
I'm really concerned about Helen. She's cold. Her hands are wet.
She's misplacing some of her equipment
because there's so much snow about.
I'm not blaming Helen. It's the conditions.
But for safety reasons, I'm probably going to pull it.
Conrad takes the decision that it's too dangerous
to continue, so the group head down the glacier to a safe area
where they can practise rescue techniques.
Crevasses are one of the most dangerous problems
explorers face in Antarctica.
These deep cracks are caused when ice moves over uneven ground,
causing it to split.
There are thousands of crevasses in Antarctica,
often hidden by deep snow,
which makes them almost impossible to spot.
It's vital they know how to deal with crevasses,
which are feared by even the most experienced explorers.
They're practising a simple rescue technique.
Helen volunteers to be the first "victim".
OK, just lean back, let the harness take the weight.
This technique allows the rescuer
to pull very heavy weights without tiring themselves out,
but, as usual, Helen's not paying attention.
OK, slowly, pull together, stop!
My hair's in the karabiner!
Ow! I'll have a bald patch, but I'll be fine!
Niklas rescues Helen successfully, minus a few hairs.
Now it's her turn to rescue him,
but she seems more interested in her hair than Niklas.
-You can see some of her hair in it.
Niklas is hanging on down there.
I just found that a load of my hair is trapped in the pulley.
Extra friction, that's what it'll provide.
Finally, Helen gets round to pulling Niklas up,
but it's not easy going.
One, two, three, pull!
One, two, three, pull!
Are we there?
Even the word "crevasse" is intimidating.
You don't know what's inside the crevasse.
If you fall in, you don't know how far you're going to fall.
It would be totally different if one of us fell into one,
but now, in the back of my head, I can go, "This is OK,
"I've pulled Niklas out of one of these before.
"I can do it if I have to."
Placing your life in someone else's hands
requires a huge amount of trust.
Are Helen and Niklas confident that,
in a dangerous situation, they can rely on each other?
I have an enormous amount of faith in Niklas.
He has that sort of poker face,
that he's quite quiet and calm,
but inside, I know he's listening to everything and taking everything in.
I think Helen did well, and I think,
with some more training
I will be able to trust her, even in Antarctica.
Back at base, it's the moment of truth.
Conrad has been watching Helen and Niklas on the glacier.
Does he think they'll have what it takes
to work well together as a team?
OK, appraisal time.
There was one thing that did disturb me, in terms of the tent.
Yours was trashed.
The end of the tent was torn and your zip broke.
The zip is totally frozen solid. I can't move it...
If you break your tent in Antarctica, game over.
11 out of 10. You're always happy and smiling.
What I really like is, you can't half get stuck in.
Areas for improvement?
In terms of looking after your kit, you're a disaster.
Oh, where on earth is our stuff?
An absolute disaster.
-I don't have any of these.
-No, they're mine.
You kind of just seem to lose everything.
There's sort of a little kit trail behind you, your goggles,
your hats, your gloves, your boots...
Conrad shouted at me
for not having the right mitts on. I don't know where they are.
If you don't look after your kit in Antarctica,
you are in totally deep, deep trouble.
Coping with the cold? Yes, we had extreme weather.
It was the worst conditions I've probably seen in 30 years.
It was horrendous. But you did get cold.
I am so cold!
You had a duvet on - not your own.
You had Niklas' duvet on. And it was soaking wet!
So you basically weren't coping with the cold.
Niklas, um... you're absolutely solid.
You're totally, totally at home in the snow-like situations.
You had no problem with that blizzard. It was just second nature.
Conrad wants Helen and Niklas to be more disciplined
with their organisation.
So he sets them a challenge to spend 24 hours on the glacier
with no support from him, to see how they cope on their own.
Oh, my word! This is crazy!
I'm such a disaster, I haven't even got a proper harness
or anything to pull my sledges.
This is my kite ski harness. We've amended it so I can pull the sled.
Helen and Nicolas are aiming to cross the glacier,
testing their kites and all their equipment as they go.
Aaagh! What are we doing?
But the weather is horrific.
They can barely see ten metres in front of them.
After a short distance, there's nothing for it but to pitch camp.
-Right, then, let's get this tent up.
-And get the kettle on.
-There's a small problem.
-There are no pegs in that tent bag.
We'll have to use our skis, then.
Conrad's telling off seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
They've forgotten their tent pegs,
and you can't put up a tent without pegs.
I'm sure we don't need it.
-Or can you?
-Skis and ski poles?
-Skis and ski poles.
-That's us, Nicolas, improvising.
-Improvise, adapt, overcome.
I think that's a British saying, actually.
I'm sure it is, it's definitely British.
That's how we roll. Improvise, adapt, overcome.
With some quick thinking from Niklas,
they manage to get the tent upright, but will it stay up?
We haven't got any tent pegs, so we're just using skis and poles.
I thought that'd be a major disaster, but Niklas didn't bat an eyelid.
He just went, "we'll improvise".
Actually, never in my whole life
I've used the tent peg during winter.
Can't you see what I like about this man?
Try threading a needle with oven mitts on.
That's exactly what I'm doing right now.
This is going to be a tricky one.
It's not a massive amount of fun, this.
It's not torture. It's not a laugh.
Finally, after a lot of Helen flapping, the tent is up.
We've now used 45 minutes to put up the tent.
And that's not bad for second time.
But I guess, when we get the training right,
we will do it in 15 minutes.
OK, so 45 now in Iceland.
By the South Pole, I'll say we can do ten.
-Let's aim for ten.
After all that hard work, they fire up the stove and get cooking.
Oh, that's such a good feeling.
What do we have for dinner tonight?
Well, I can offer you pasta with mushrooms,
or chicken curry.
I'll take the first dish.
-You can have two, actually.
-they can't find anything they need.
-I think I lost my spoon already.
Yes, I don't...
..have a spoon.
Helen, do you look forward to doing this 30 days in a row?
The intimidating thing in Antarctica is, there's no option, is there?
It's either this, or you don't eat.
And on that happy thought, it's bedtime.
Helen and Niklas will travel
to the South Pole in the Antarctic summer.
At this time of year, there's daylight 24 hours a day.
They'll have to get used to there being no day and no night.
And the solar energy generated is so powerful
that sunburn and snow blindness are serious risks.
It's nice, isn't it?
The sky! We can see the sky!
I don't want to speak too soon, but we can actually see the sky.
I can see more than three metres in front of me.
This is like a different place!
So fingers crossed, we might finally get some kiting in.
It's been so windy and the visibility's been so poor,
we haven't been able to do anything.
But hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, today will be the day. Yes!
Before they can get the kites out, they need to get to flat ground,
so it's cross-country skis on and poles out.
I'm just so delighted that we're getting to do something.
I had a horrible feeling the weather was going to be awful,
we'd go home having just sat in that tent.
Once they reach the plateau,
Niklas decides the weather is good enough to get some kite practice
and introduces Helen to a brand new type of kite, known as a sail.
I love these!
The kite's scary.
They drag you along the ground.
And it's simple to control.
All the time, you have to remember how you feel the force of the kite.
Pull the thing down.
And you have to, like, stretch for the bottom
and just pull fast and hard.
It may be slow, but I'm moving.
Looks like the kite sail and Helen were made for each other.
Ah, I'm doing it!
That's very good.
You will go much faster this way, so be careful.
Keep the kite just as steady.
Helen's doing so well that Niklas decides they can practise
using the kite sail to travel,
which means it's time to attach the sleds.
This is so much fun. It's just so...
..Higher on the rope.
I don't know whether it looks cool, but it feels cool. Wooh!
All the waiting around and trailing around in this wet, horrible snow
has been worth it for today, I think.
-This is perfect.
-And I think you appreciate it
because of how frustrating the last few days have been.
It's the end of their time in Iceland.
Helen and Niklas have learnt
how to survive in the most extreme weather conditions,
but 500 miles is a long way to go if you don't get on.
At the airport, I was really nervous,
but I'm delighted that you wanted to come on this trip
cos you're patient and you're positive.
-You were actually quite quiet in the beginning.
And now you're like this all the time.
-That's a good thing, though, right?
-That's a good thing.
I am delighted that Niklas is on board with this,
because he's a lovely bloke, he's really patient
and I actually think we make each other laugh.
I think we'll have a good time.
It's five months since Helen started preparing for her polar challenge.
Her training has pushed her mentally and physically to the limit.
She's learnt how to kite, ski and bike to the South Pole.
But now she has to put those skills to the test for real.
It's time for the toughest challenge of her life.
It's time for Antarctica.
And if you've been inspired by Helen's challenge,
why not go the extra mile and get involved in Sport Relief?
Get a grown-up and sign up to do the Sport Relief Mile.
There are hundreds of events around the country,
and by raising money, you can help poor and vulnerable people in the UK
and around the world.
Next time -
All the hard work pays off as Helen finally arrives in Antarctica.
We've landed here in Antarctica on sheet ice.
But her decision to pack only one pair of boots is starting to hurt.
My feet are a wreck.
We're only six days in. There's possibly 30 more to go.
-Three, two, one!
And they're off!
Helen and Niklas begin their 500-mile journey to the South Pole.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd