Living dangerously is just a way of life for two-time world first record holder, British adventurer and extreme athlete Ash Dykes.
The 27 year old, from Old Colwyn in North Wales, has already successfully completed two ‘World Firsts’, been named ‘Welsh Adventurer of the Year’ twice, 2015 Adventurer of the Year, Wales’ Online 7/50 ‘Coolest Person in Wales’ and has been described by FHM as ‘one of the world’s most fearless outdoorsmen’.
In 2014, Ash trekked 1,500 miles in 78 days over the Altai Mountains, through the Gobi Desert and the Mongolian Steppe, while pulling a 120kg trailer containing provisions needed to survive, and faced a near-death experience whilst suffering severe dehydration. He was also hit by snow blizzards, sand storms, and was told by the locals, who nicknamed him “the Lonely Snow Leopard”, that he’d be eaten alive by wolves.
Ash achieved his second world-first in 2016 when he became the first person to walk the entire length of Madagascar’s interior whilst summiting the eight highest mountains along the way. During “Surviving Madagascar,” Ash completed 1,600 miles in 155 days overcoming challenges such as military intervention, contracting and surviving the deadliest strain of malaria, crossing crocodile infested rivers and hacking through near impenetrable jungle.
2018 sees Ash paused to begin what is possibly his hardest challenge yet. The young adventurer has reached the Yangtze river on the Tibetan Plateau and has officially begun #MissionYangtze, his third world-first record that will see him traverse 6,437km (4,000 miles) alongside the Yangtze River on foot over the coming year.
The Yangtze River is the world’s longest river to flow through a single country and has never been walked – until now.
Ash will face wildly varying climates throughout his year-long trek, from freezing cold sub-zero temperatures in the west to tropical environments in the east, whilst also encountering wildlife such as snakes, bears, wolves and Asian killer hornets.
The sheer length of the mission, with its isolation, difficult terrain, including treacherous v-shaped valleys and thick forests, variable climates and everyday dangers, makes this his most intense and challenging mission yet.
After months of intensive fitness training both at his home gym in North Wales and in China, people around the globe will be able to follow the expedition and witness Ash pushing himself to his absolute limits as he covers the challenging terrain and interacts with some of the 400 million people who live alongside and depend on the Yangtze River to survive.
The world record-setting #MissionYangtze will attempt to be the most digitally engaging expedition in history. Ash is being supported by leading technological and corporate partners (Navarino) to enable followers to interact with him during his mission via social media and his blog and allowing people around the globe to be part of the action, as it happens.
The expedition is also being filmed by Mandarin Films, for a TV documentary series and weekly web video episodes will be distributed weekly by some of the largest online and media channels across China and worldwide.
Ash promises it will be just as digitally entertaining as it will be intense. He’ll take on local rituals, compete in martial arts, try the weirdest foods, give back to the communities and encourage people to join him along the way.
A respectful environmentalist, Ash will ensure he leaves only his footprints during his journey. Part of his mission is to provide communities with fresh drinking water and education on plastic pollution, and how to enjoy but protect the world we live in. Ash will take care of his own plastic waste and, in partnership with Water to Go China, will distribute water filter bottles to children at key points along the expedition.
Ash will experience first-hand the fast development of China as he moves from isolated rural communities to urban civilization, through isolated deep forests and jungles to exploration of some of China’s historic cities.
Ash is excited to share one of the greatest expeditions of the decade and inspire children and adults alike to experience the importance of pushing yourself to your limits, dreaming big, setting challenging goals, and having the focus, drive, commitment and persistence to achieve them.
Ash expects to complete #MissionYangtze in August 2019 – and you can follow his adventures on his website.