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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Cumbrian climber Leo out to tame the wolf in Antarctica

EXPLORER Leo Houlding has set off on his toughest challenge yet – and is feeling a whole mix of emotions.

Leo and his team were due to set off this weekend in a bid to make the first ascent of the 2km long north east ridge of the remote peak Ulvetanna in Eastern Antarctica.

Houlding, 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.

“Don’t know how I feel, part relived, part stressed, part nervous, part excited, part disbelief, part harsh reality!,” he wrote on his blog, which he has been updating most days. “I’m mainly unbelievably psyched that this is finally happening.”

Once at the summit, Leo will base jump from the 1,300m ridge.

“Our journey began in the Arctic with the Asgard Project, took us through the Never Never Land that is Yosemite and up The Prophet, onto the Lost World of Autana deep in the Amazon and now it leads us to the last great wilderness, Antarctica!,” he added. “It is an amazing journey, with an exceptional crew, awe-inspiring landscapes, and excellent adventures.”

He said he had a feeling it was going to be tough. “You must be careful what you wish for but I genuinely hope that, save for frostbitten extremities or serious accidents, we are pushed further and harder than ever before,” he said.

“It is the most difficult peak to climb on the harshest continent. 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.”

Team-mate Jason Pickles said the start of the trip signalled “the end of years of dreaming – and a lot of planning.”

“Part of me is looking forward to seeing what this place has, the rest of me is scared of what it might have,” he said.

See www.berghaus.com/community for blogs on their adventure

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

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

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