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17 April 2024

From Pole to Pole with no time to earn a living

By Adrian Murphy


Professional life coach Adrian Hayes recently reached the “three Poles of the earth” in a record-breaking 19 months. The 45-year-old climbed 8,840 metres to the summit of Mount Everest in May 2006, then trekked to the North Pole in April 2007 before reaching the South Pole on December 28. Only 14 other people have achieved this feat. Emirates Business found out more.

What pays the bills – life coaching or adventuring?

—Right now little! Last year I was away for three months for the North Pole and two months for the South Pole, but the preparations for both took up the remaining time. I did them in the same year because I wanted to, and was on a momentum roll, but also to get them out of the way so I can start earning a living again. Obviously these three adventures are massive projects and I couldn’t undertake them without my sponsors’ generous support.

Did you have any money in your pocket when you reached the Poles?

—None on Everest or the North Pole. At the South Pole, however, is the US Amunsden-Scott base – an Antarctic scientific base that is home to 250 people and includes a gift shop. So yes, I bought a few things for my children.

As well as personal ambition, you completed the trip to raise money for charity. Who are you raising for?

—The Children’s Hope Foundation and the Friends of Cancer Patients– we have Dh100,000 so far and we’ll double it.

News of your record appeared around the world, so how will you use that fame to further your career?

—Lets get this straight. What I did – which I had no idea whether I would be the 15th or 1,500th when I started planning it, and no knowledge of any record until six weeks before I left – seems to have indeed caught the attention of the world’s media. But that was for the feat. As for me and so-called “fame”, come on! Its a case of here today, forgotten tomorrow.

You do a lot of motivational speaking for companies. What lessons can you provide firms now?

—This is something I am passionate about. Having studied personal development subjects for 10 years, life coaching for four years, a lifetime of varying achievements, and now these three big feats, I have huge lessons from all of them that, combined, I firmly believe I can help both individuals and companies achieve big things. I’m not saying I have the answers for civilisation; at the same time I didn’t go full time into this field, giving up a high-profile corporate career with Airbus to be some small back-street corner shop. If you believe you’ve got a skill then aim as high as the three goals I’ve just achieved.

Why do you choose Dubai to launch your challenges from?

—This has been my home for 12 out of the last 13 years. Its also a place with a massive “can do” outlook on life. I wonder if I would have done this if I wasn’t living here.

Did you film your adventure at all?

—I forced myself to film all the three adventures – always getting extremely cold fingers and face doing so. I’ve had them all professionally edited down to five-10 minutes; it’s pretty powerful stuff. They usually have most people with lumps in their throats and many even in tears.

Name one thing you couldn’t have lived without during the adventure?

—Life for 50 days on the most barren, inhospitable, lifeless, but uniquely beautiful continent on our planet came down to the simplest things – protection, shelter, warmth, food and drink. I lived for the large insulated mug of hot chocolate with copious milk powder. It puts our normal lives with all our material possessions into perspective.

Your record was a great way to finish 2007. What’s next for 2008?

—Well, first I need to get my body back up to scratch but I will write a book about the three Poles as nobody has ever done that before.


Adrian Hayes

Adventurer and professional life coach

Hayes’ CV is as formidable as his recent achievement. He was educated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served in the British army as a gurkha officer and then special-forces soldier.

In business, the MBA qualified executive has held senior positions in a variety of industries, most recently as the Regional Sales Director for Airbus, Middle East, where he was responsible for selling or placing nearly 200 aircraft in Middle East/West Asia region, including the 45 A380s to Emirates airline.

The father-of-two has also completed stints as a farmer in New Zealand, paramedic in the United Kingdom, singer and guitarist in a rock band in the UAE and a diver in the Pacific.

The Dubai resident has lived and worked in eight countries and speaks four languages – Arabic, Nepalese, Malay and English.