Life was put into perspective for the Turner Twins when Hugo broke his neck in a freak diving accident aged 17. After years of not playing sport together, going on their first adventure together was their way of reconnecting. Ross and Hugo have since gone on to complete some epic expeditions which include the following; rowing the Atlantic Ocean, attempting to cross the Greenland ice cap, climbing Mt Elbrus and reaching three of the world’s Continental Poles of Inaccessibility. Here is their story below...
What was the path that lead you to today?
Ross: Hugo broke his neck aged 17 in a freak diving accident which started the foundations of what we do today. Life gets put into perspective very clearly when something like this happens and you look at life through a very different lens. He’s incredibly lucky to be walking again so we’re making the most of it. I played rugby at Loughborough University but after suffering a broken leg I stopped playing. It had been years since we last played sport together so going on our first adventure was our way of re-connecting.
Since then we have supported spinal research charities by using our expeditions and adventures to raise vital funds. To date, these have included rowing the Atlantic Ocean, attempting to cross the Greenland ice cap (wearing replica kit from Shackleton’s 1914 Endurance expedition), climbing Mt Elbrus (wearing replica clothing from George Mallory’s 1924 Everest Expedition). We’ve also reached three of the world’s Continental Poles of Inaccessibility.
Who inspired you to do what you do?
Hugo: So many people inspire us, but we have to mention our patrons; their spinal injuries are for life but their attitudes, positivity and continual inspiration are unrivalled. At the hardest times during our adventures we remind ourselves of their positivity and inspiration which helps push us further into the world’s untouched regions. The fact that I was close to paralysis is also a pinnacle reason why we go on our expeditions – to raise money for spinal research charities, most recently working with Wings for Life.
What have been the biggest obstacles you have encountered?
Ross: Like with any expedition, the fundraising is the hardest part but the most important. If you can’t raise the cash, then you don’t go - simple. We started fundraising for our first expedition amidst the economic downturn in 2010 and were lucky enough to get funding. Starting a career in the adventure world was always going to be a bigger challenge than the expeditions, as we’ve had to balance full time and part time jobs to make the dream happen. People only see the result of our sacrifice but never the highs and lows of planning and organizing such trips.
Hugo: Reaching the South American Pole of Inaccessibility a couple of years ago. We understand that we are the only people to have reached this centre point. To have cycled there across 2,500km of mixed terrain and climates is something we’re hugely proud of.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Ross: Do what makes you happy and to share your experience with someone else.
What are the things that help you get through each adventure and why?
Hugo: Good preparation helps make the expeditions a little easier when things get challenging. You have to trust yourself and your preparation so you know you’re prepared for every eventuality. Thinking about the charity Wings for Life and the people we’re raising money for helps us to keep positive.
What scares you and how do you deal with fear?
Ross: Failure is our biggest fear. We had to get a medical helicopter evacuation off the Greenland icecap after a couple of weeks of trekking which was our first experience of failure on an expedition (and it hurt in every aspect). At least we can return for another attempt in the future. Every cloud has a silver lining as they say. The unknown is also scary but exciting in equal measure. Thinking about a couple of expeditions we have planned in the future really puts a big knot in our stomachs.
Why is getting outdoors so important in modern life?
Hugo: It activates our primal and survival instincts which builds confidence within you. If you had nothing else to get you through a sticky situation, could you survive? Exercising the feeling of fear through different challenges helps push your own boundaries and makes the big challenges in your own day to day life seem smaller and more manageable.
Amongst all the adventures you have been involved with, which is the most unforgettable and why?
Ross: Flying across Australia with paramotors was totally unforgettable. Paramotors are one of the best ways to explore the skies because it’s just you, an engine strapped to your back and a wing above your head. You feel absolutely immersed in every flight. We flew around a massive rock in the outback called Mt Connor. It was very impressive but we completely forgot where we were flying and as we turned to head home we could see Ayers Rock and The Olgas on the horizon, some 120km away. With the sun setting and it being one of the last flights of our expedition, it felt very special.
Who has been an unsung hero in your life?
Hugo: A wonderful man called, Woody. Seeing an 80-year-old man sleeping with his head out of the tent door because he was too tall, will always be a treasured memory. Even in his eighties he would regularly come camping, quad bike riding, dirt biking and do everything we did, even though we were young boys.
What's next for you?
Ross: Reaching more Poles of Inaccessibility and testing new technology to deliver live video while on our adventurers.
Do you have a motto you live by?
Do your best to leave only footprints and memories.