'I'm just emotionally bruised': Devon explorer returns from Antarctic crossing attempt

  • Sam Cox tells ITV West Country's Sabet Choudhury and Alex Lovell he's 'emotionally bruised'

A former Royal Marine from Devon who had aimed to complete the world's first solo unsupported crossing of Antarctica has spoken to ITV West Country after cutting his attempt short.

Sam Cox, from Torquay, had aimed to complete a 2000km solo expedition across the continent in just 78 days, but was forced to stop due to suspected kidney stones.

In total, he had travelled more than 600km, including 1100m of elevation across the Ross Ice Shelf, pulling all his supplies weighing 25 stone along with him.

He was flown off the ice on Friday 22 December 2023, after 32 days of travelling.

Now back in Devon, Sam told ITV West Country: "I'm at home, back at work sat behind a laptop watching everyone else have a great time in Antarctica.

"It was unfortunately not a decision that was taken lightly and doctors orders were to come out. It's the sort of thing that if left unchecked could have had an impact on my long term health.

"There were a few sobs in the tent before I got picked up, and I'm only just processing it now."

Speaking on the initial third of the expedition he did complete, Sam said: "When you're there the weather and the conditions play such a big part in terms of the speed you move.

"Looking at some of the other guys out there, the conditions look really good so I think if I'd have carried on I would have been successful.

"I was about a third of the way through in terms of distance and halfway in terms of time so it's difficult to tell. It would have depended on what Antarctica had in store later on.

Sam's tent and skis. Credit: Sam Cox

"It's an El Niño year so temperatures were quite a bit warmer and it was actually quite hot on some days.

"It was hovering just below minus zero so I was skiing in just a long sleeved base layer for quite a few days.

"With the sun especially, the temperature in the tent was plus 20 degrees so all I needed was a pair of shorts!"

Speaking on whether he'd like to attempt the challenge again, Sam said: "I've been home just two and a half weeks so I'm just settling back into things and with the recovery process both physically and mentally.

"I don't want to rush into any decisions. I'm absolutely okay. I've been given the all clear now, I'm just emotionally bruised.

"Hopefully I'll be back to full fitness in time for the spring."