I'm skiing to the South Pole to boost kids' lives

Published: 26 Jan 2012 09:240 comments

ONE hundred years ago this month, Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole, only to find he had lost to Norwegian Roald Amundsen in the race to be first there.

Michael Hughes (centre) is planning an expedition to the South Pole

On his return in March 1912, Scott and his team perished in the extreme conditions, and his 'glorious failure' has gone down as one of the most famous Antarctic journeys in history.

Now Haddington lawyer Michael Hughes is planning to ski 760 miles from Hercules Inlet, Antarctica, to the South Pole, while pulling a sled weighing 130lbs.

And he's happy to settle for a "less glorious success" and hopefully £10,000 in his pocket for a children's charity.

The 30-year-old will take part in the epic journey - battling temperatures as low as minus 40C - between November 2015 and January 2016.

Joined by a leader and a group of other adventurers, Michael plans to ski about 12 miles per day and sleep in a tent, surviving on vacuum-packed foods as he attempts to replace some of the 8,000 calories he will burn.

Despite the risks from the terrain, the weather, and medical conditions like frostbite and gangrene, Michael - who works for Alex Mitchell & Sons in Musselburgh - is prepared to take Antarctica on.

But he knows how important it is to return home to his family of wife Christina, 26, and their first son who she is due to give birth to in four weeks' time.

"It's just as well I'm a good solicitor with excellent persuasive skills, otherwise I think it would have been a tough sell [to Christina]!" said Michael.

"I lost a father when I was nine. My dad, also called Michael, was the solicitor and Scottish representative of the American victims of the Lockerbie disaster.

"On the way back from the first day of the fatal accident inquiry, he was killed on the roads, so I know what it's like to be brought up without a father.

"Everything I've done is around doing [the trip] safely. I fully intend to come back! I would rather a less glorious success and simply do my job of getting there and raising £10,000 for charity."

Glasgow-born Michael has kicked off three years of training - though he is no stranger to physical challenges, having participated in ultra-marathons and the renowned Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon at Loch Tay - swimming, running, kayaking and cycling nearly 57 miles.

Michael is raising cash for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

"Everything I do in my work is based around the welfare of children and, as a result, it's become one of my passions to ensure children can have a good childhood," Michael added.

"The sum £10,000 is the minimum that I want to raise and I would hope that the fact I'm undertaking something so dangerous that people would think, 'I can donate that little bit more'."

Michael is seeking donations of money and equipment. Visit www.justgiving.com/skisouthpole

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