Saturday, November 20, 2010

Young Scot eyes Pole after scaling ‘unclimbable’ Himalayan peak

Calum Macintyre and Dave Morris
A year ago, as a 16-year-old schoolboy, he was conquering one of the most difficult mountains in the Himalayas.
Now he wants to spend next summer rowing to the North Pole.
However, Calum Macintyre must first beat off the challenge of more than 40 other short-listed finalists from across the world who want to be chosen as the last crew member in that boat heading north.
So today, at the Dorney Lake Olympic rowing centre near Windsor, he and his rivals will undergo a series of endurance rowing challenges, interviews and psychometric tests before the winner is announced at the London Boat Show in January.
They all want to join Scots explorer Jock Wishart in his mission to complete the first rowing expedition to one of the world’s Poles, in this case the magnetic North Pole.
The idea of rowing to the North Pole just seemed so different. 
Calum Macintyre
The expedition is being sponsored by Wick-based malt whisky brand Old Pulteney and will take four to six weeks with the crew rowing in shifts, and possibly dragging the specially designed ice boat across sections of the polar cap.
The adventure, which is due to start in August, will be captured online and on camera for a UK and international audience, and will deliver environmental data to scientific partners. The planned 450-mile route across the Arctic Sea starts at Resolute Bay in Canada, and is timed to coincide with the few weeks of the year the final section is navigable before refreezing.
It has only become possible to consider an attempt like this in recent years due to the increase in seasonal ice melt and the much-documented deterioration of the Arctic landscape.
Last year Calum became the youngest person to reach the summit of the Himalayan mountain of Ama Dablam, which at 23,501ft is five times the height of Ben Nevis and was once described by Sir Edmund Hillary as “unclimbable”.
Now studying politics at Stirling University, he said the sheer adventure of the Row to the Pole expedition attracted him.
“After last year everybody was suggesting that I do Mount Everest, but Everest seems almost to be getting commercial now with all the record-breaking attempts. The idea of rowing to the North Pole just seemed so different. It is said to be one of the last great ‘firsts’ on the scale of the first row across the Atlantic. If I managed to get into the team I think I would see if I could take a year out of university.”
When he climbed Ama Dablam last year he was raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust inspired by two family members’ fights against cancer. His sister Esme had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006 at the age of 11 and his father Dave Morris, director of Ramblers Scotland, was also treated for cancer in 2008 and had his voice box removed last year. Calum said if he is selected he would see if he could use the expedition to benefit the trust.
The teenager will be up against others from Scotland, including Jenny Reid, 19, a medical student from Mull, and Sam Scrimgeour, 22, an aero-mechanical engineering graduate from near Forfar.
They all want to join Wishart, who has established an international reputation as a leading adventurer and sportsman, not least by becoming the only man ever to have walked unsupported to a Pole and rowed across an ocean.
Wishart, a former pupil of Dumfries Academy who claims to be a descendant of Robert Burns, represented Scotland and Britain at rowing and yachting, said when launching the project that it would be “the greatest challenge of my life”.
It will be the first polar expedition to involve rowing since Ernest Shackleton’s men took to their boats in the South Pole on the legendary 1916 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

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