Prince Harry, the Vampire and Del Rio Soldier Trek to the South Pole
This weekend, Prince Harry will plant a flag at the South Pole as part of one of the most challenging charity events ever planned.
The South Pole expedition, organized by the charity Walking With The Wounded, is aimed at bringing attention to wounded soldiers in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Alex Skarsgard, the actor who plays a vampire on the HBO Series True Blood, and Dominic West of The Wire are also making the trek.
The South Pole Allied Challenge is a 221-mile, 20-day trek involving 12 wounded veterans, six mentors and three guides. All were dropped off on the wind-blown sastrugi of the 9,800-foot Antarctic plateau and are pulling 175-pounds as they ski their way to the South Pole.
A Del Rio woman, Therese Frentz, is one of the wounded soldiers making the journey. In a blog post on the charity's site, Frentz wrote, "This is a lot harder than the military.”
Temperatures drop as low as 49 degrees below zero with winds up to 50 mph.The trek is so strenuous that each participant is advised to consume 8,000 calories per day.
From the Antarctic, Frentz wrote in a blog post that she welcomed changing the nature of the expedition. Initially, it was planned as a race between the Americans, the British and a combined team of Australians and Canadians. However, according to the Walking With The Wounded website, the competition aspect was cancelled due to safety concerns. The statement on the website said team members “are determined to prove their strength and courage, but this be done without jeopardizing anyone’s well-being.”
The allied team is now pushing toward the South Pole together.
“I have to say that I really liked the decision of turning this expedition just into an expedition and not a race,” Frentz wrote on Dec. 8. "It’s still going to be a huge accomplishment for all of us!”
The goal of the expedition is the demonstrate the strength and determination of disabled veterans when provided proper care and access to resources. Frentz is an example of that determination. While stationed in Baghdad in October 2004, she was severely injured when a suicide bomber entered a Green Zone café and detonated his explosive 10 feet away from her table. She sustained third-degree burns to 30 percent of her body as well as internal injuries to her liver and kidney, tissue loss in her left knee, and partial hearing loss. Swift medical care from military doctors who happened to be nearby at the time of the explosion saved Frentz’s life.
After multiple surgeries and intensive, painful physical therapy, Frentz has regained full range of motion in her extremities and partial hearing in her left ear. She suffers from PTSD and depression, but has improved over the past years with continued counseling and medication. She still undergoes regular physical therapy and CO2 laser surgeries to continue her healing process.
Frentz is proud to represent injured female soldiers, and she aspires to be an empowering example of what can be accomplished despite having both visible physical injuries and the invisible scars of PTSD.
“Since retiring in 2007, I have been looking for an opportunity to bring awareness to wounded service men and women and being a part of the South Pole Allied Challenge has fulfilled me in ways I didn’t know were possible,” she says.