Earlier this year, Virgin Money Insurance like it should be sponsored South African mountaineer, Sibusiso Vilane on his quest to complete the Three Poles Challenge – reaching the North Pole, having already conquered the South Pole and Mount Everest.
Vilane was finally able to realise this dream when he completed his North Pole expedition on 11 April 2012.
"Becoming the first Black person in the world to complete the Three Poles Challenge sends a message of hope and motivation to all that anything is possible and you can achieve anything you set out to do if you believe in yourself," says Vilane.
Vilane's trek across the North Pole was an arduous 120 kilometre hike on the ice of the Arctic Ocean in temperatures well below minus 30 degrees Celsius.
Of his journey, Vilane says: "The North Pole is very rough because the terrain is punishing and there are many surface obstacles to deal with. We had to cross huge rubble-like blocks of ice called pressure ridges, and while being challenged by that, we came across fresh open water leads that can be as deep as five metres. Plunging into one of those means being sucked into the ocean's freezing depths. Each day was torture, a test of will and determination. I enjoyed every second of it!"
During his intrepid quest, South Africans were able to track his progress via Virgin Money Insurance's website and on Twitter. The response from the public was phenomenal and Virgin Money's Chairman, Sir Richard Branson, got involved by sending Sibusiso messages of encouragement and congratulations.
Virgin Money South Africa's CEO, Vinay Padayachee, says there was never any doubts that Vilane would complete The Goliath Challenge. "Vilane has the strength of character, body and mind to achieve this immeasurably impressive feat. Virgin Money Insurance is obviously very proud to have been privy to his quest and we join thousands of South Africans in congratulating him."