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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Antarctica challenges underway for Cumbrian adventurers

Two Cumbrian adventurers have embarked on daring challenges that could see them make history.

Leo Houlding says his bid to make the first ascent of the two-kilometre long north east ridge of the remote peak Ulvetanna in Eastern Antarctica will be his greatest adventure to date. Once at the summit, he will base jump from the 1,300-metre ridge.

Houlding, aged 32, who grew up in Bolton, near Appleby, is trying to conquer a new route on Ulvetanna - a Norwegian name that translates to “the wolf’s tooth” - which is widely recognised as the most difficult mountain to climb in Antarctica.

"It is the most difficult peak to climb on the harshest continent,” he said. "Since I first heard of this otherworldly peak more than a decade ago I have dreamed of amassing the skill, strength and support necessary to reach this most elusive mountain."

His six-strong team set off on Sunday and is due to return on February 2.

Keep up to date with Houlding's progress at Ulvetanna - The Wolf's Tooth - Antarctica

And Brian Newham, aged 54, of Uldale, near Caldbeck, is part of a team, led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, that is attempting to make the first ever crossing of the Antarctic in winter.

The group will travel across the wilderness in almost permanent darkness where temperatures can plunge as low as -90°C. The 2,000-mile trek - named The Coldest Journey - will re-define the limits of human courage and endurance.

Mr Newham, an experienced alpine mountaineer and skier, has spent more than 20 seasons in Antarctica and had nine visits to the Arctic.

A fundraising initiative is running alongside the expedition with the aim of raising more than £6 million for Seeing is Believing to help fight blindness around the world.

In its latest blog, co-leader Anton Bowring says the team - but not Newham who is in the UK planning the unloading sequence - is on board the ship SA Agulhas bound for Antarctica.

"We aim to reach Crown Bay in late January in order to discharge the vehicles, equipment and stores. However, until we have more information on the ice conditions nearer the time we arrive there, it may prove unsuitable and we may have to look elsewhere to unload," he writes.

Tristam Kaye, 29, originally from Crosby, near Maryport, is helping to oversee the expedition from London.

For details about the expedition visit The Coldest Journey website or follow the team on Twitter at coldestjourney or Facebook.

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