A chilly Christmas celebration for some King’s alumni

Christmas Expeditions

Read these two tales of King’s alumni who braved extreme weather at Christmas on their frosty adventures.

Trekking across the Antarctic in Shackleton’s steps

In 2010, King’s alumni Tim Fright (International Peace and Security, 2007) and Richard Gray (Law, 1992) trekked across Antarctica. The trip was to commemorate the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1908 attempt to be the first person to reach the South Pole.

Shackleton and his team had to turn back 97 miles from the Pole due to dwindling rations, bad weather and illness. The end point of Shackleton’s journey was the starting point for Tim and Richard’s trek, which began on 9 January 2010.

Tim and Richard, part of a team of four who met up with three other descendants of the original team, left the UK in October to complete the entire 900-mile journey.

‘My great-great uncle was a member of the original expedition so it felt like I was completing unfinished family business,’ said Tim.

Tim described his experience as inspirational, and said he is now less susceptible to the cold, as it will never be minus 52 in London. His advice for anyone thinking of undertaking such a journey: ‘Go for it. I’ve realised that pretty much anything is possible.’

A cold and lonely Christmas, but all in the name of science 

Alumnus Dr Alex Kumar researching in the Antarctic

Dr Alexander Kumar (Medicine, 2008) was cold and alone in the South Pole for Christmas 2012 – but it was all for a great research cause.

Dr Kumar spent a whole year at the Concordia Research Station as part of a project exploring how humans deal with extreme isolation and environments like the Antarctic. The research, for the European Space Agency, was to provide an insight into how humans might cope with the extreme conditions of a manned spaceflight mission to Mars. The idea being that a lonely outpost on the South Pole would provide the most similar conditions to being on Mars.

Dr Kumar also took part in the ‘White Mars Analogue Study’, part of a science programme on the Standard Chartered Trans-Antarctic Winter Traverse (TAWT), which was run by King's Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences.

Where are you spending the festive holidays? 

Where are you spending Christmas? We would love to know what you’re doing and why – and send us a pic on Instagram or Twitter