North Wales record holder, adventurer and extreme explorer Ash Dykes is celebrating after crossing the finish line on his latest, 352-day 4,000-mile outing where he’s taken over 8 million steps – walking to achieve his third world-first record.
After almost an entire year of lengthy, exhaustive and sometimes incredibly dangerous walking, Ash finally reached the end of his largest mission to date – #MissionYangtze.
The challenge was clear, to be the first person in recorded history to traverse the entire length of the Yangtze River in China. From source to sea; this to many seemed an unimaginable feat, a point which made it look ever more attractive to the odds-defying Ash Dykes.
Ash has always had a curious fascination about the wonders of China, and when the opportunity to trek the 4,000-mile journey on foot started holding some traction, further planning, training and behind the scenes logistics allowed Ash to mentally and physically prepare for what would become his most ambitious and challenging mission to date.
The source of the Yangtze is the highest source of any major river around the world with an altitude of over 5,100 meters. Situated in the Tibetan Plateau; the severity of the challenge was not to be underestimated. It was expected Ash would be facing a lot of dangers from the sub-zero temperatures early on, the wild bears, wolves and snakes through to the regional locals who would naturally be caught off guard to see a strange foreigner alone, walking in such remote and dangerous areas of China.
Finally, the demands that Ash would face both mentally and physically with the expedition being one year to complete could take him to breaking point – however, the training, from both fitness to mental preparation allowed Ash to throw himself into the uncomfortable, dangerous & physical challenges that awaited him.
Ash started close to the source on 15/08/2018, however on the 26/08/2018 Ash returned to the 5,100m altitude with authorisation to take his team to the source of the Yangtze river in order to take pictures and technology to verify his achievement. Making it to the remote location alone was tricky, and kicked Ash into his ‘wild side’ very quickly!
#MissionYangtze showed its sheer difficulty early on, due to the -20°C temperatures, 40-mile setbacks/rewinds due to Tibetan government-officials, and the odd detainments by police; such as that by the Qinghai Police in early September 2018.
It proved to be a trek of attrition, which saw his initial videographer team have to bail due to the extremities. Ash responded admirably to every challenge he experienced – telling his fans back home that the challenges just gave him even more willpower to carry on – and carry on he did.
One of the things Ash realised very early on in #MissionYangtze was simply how wonderful the people living in China are. Even the officials who were just doing their job by asking questions, and taking Ash on administration-based detours. Many people who Ash met along #MissionYangtze were incredibly approachable, supportive and giving – as Ash was invited into the small homes of families in the east, given warm welcomes, incredible regional food, as well as helpful advice and warnings in regards to the dangers Ash would face along the way.
Crowds of well-wishers and film crews surrounded Ash as he completed the final KM’s of his 6500KM expedition which was filmed by his media partners based in China – he now returns but in true Ash Dykes style; Ash will continue sharing his stories, adventures, conservational and humanitarian work in the weeks, months and years to come.
His hard-working UK support team, including his Dad, proudly paid tribute as he crossed the line:
“Ash is a fantastic example of someone with heartwarming morals, respect for people & nature all around the world, and impeccable physical and emotional strength – this isn’t the end, as Ash returns to share his story. #MissionYangtze. You’ve not seen anything yet :-)”
The News from Wales team have loved tracking Ash’s mission and our readers have followed his progress excitedly, so we’re delighted to add our voices to the many congratulations Ash is now deservedly receiving.