Adventurer hopes for trek milestone

Oli France on one of his previous adventures
Oli France on one of his previous adventures

A Wigan adventurer is hoping to write his name in the record books when he tackles a gruelling trek he believes has never been done before.

Oli France, from Standish, could become the first person to complete a solo walk 450 miles across the Atlas mountains in Morocco from the Sahara desert to the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ve done extensive research and I’m fairly sure this has never been done before

Oli France

Oli will set off for North Africa later this month and will be completely alone, carrying everything he needs to survive through the trackless wilderness.

Oli, 26, said: “It’s an unsupported journey along the entire length of the high Atlas Mountains and includes me climbing the country’s 15 highest peaks.

“I will be navigating through large expanses of completely uninhabited wilderness and also meeting Berber communities in the small villages along the way.

“I’ve done extensive research and I’m fairly sure this has never been done before. Everyone doing what I’m doing wants to raise the profile of it and a first journey is the perfect way to do that.”

The record-breaking trek is a follow-up to a project the former St Peter’s RC High School and Winstanley College student did last year making his way overland from Hong Kong to Istanbul, which included getting detained by the authorities in Uzbekistan.

Oli recently returned to his former secondary school in Orrell to give a talk about his Asian adventure and his upcoming trek in Morocco.

The African challenge, which is expected to take around 30 days, is being funded by local business Brick Store which means Oli will use the journey to raise money for Joining Jack and support research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

He said: “I spend time leading groups in the mountains, and delivering talks to school and youth groups, always encouraging them to live adventurously. Young Jack and all DMD sufferers deserve the opportunity to live adventurously too.

“I would be delighted therefore to raise funds which will go towards important research which will one day hopefully find a cure for DMD.”

Oli studied outdoor leadership at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and works as a mountain expedition leader and guide as well as going on his arduous adventures, which have also included climbing Mont Blanc.

He hopes to encourage more people to head out off the beaten track and experience nature in all its glory.

He said: “Exploring wild places is the antidote to everyday life. It’s the injection of adrenaline and excitement which is hard to come across.”

The Moroccan trek begins on March 25. To find out more or donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Oli-France or www.facebook.com/OliFranceAdventure/