Mountaineer Newall makes history

Newall Hunter from Leadhills celebrates reaching the summit of the South Pole, the first Briton to ski solo there from the Mesner Start on the Filchner Ice Shelf at the edge of the Antarctic (Submitted pic)
Newall Hunter from Leadhills celebrates reaching the summit of the South Pole, the first Briton to ski solo there from the Mesner Start on the Filchner Ice Shelf at the edge of the Antarctic (Submitted pic)
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Leadhills adventurer Newall Hunter has become the first Scot to do the coveted explorers’ Grand Slam after braving -40°C temperatures.

After scaling the summit of Denali in Alaska – the world’s coldest mountain – on June 24, Newall became only the second Brit and the 14th person in the world to climb the highest peaks on each of the seven continents and reach both the North and South Poles.

“This has been my aim for many years,” said Newall, who endured several days of bad weather and thick snow in Alaska before climbing North America’s highest peak which is 18,000 feet high.

“The main reason for it taking so long is that I wanted to do it without any external funding or sponsorship which has meant working and saving for each expedition myself.”

Newall endured days of strong winds, snow and extreme sub-zero temperatures in Alaska.

By the time he arrived at the mountain just 20 per cent of those who had attempted the climb this year had managed to reach the top.

His daily journal described some of his discomfort: “Not moved in four days. Still at 14000ft camp.

“This storm is really hitting now. I’m digging the tent out every one to two hours now to stop it collapsing.”

Newall’s Alaska exploits were the culmination of more than 13 years of climbing and skiing to the most remote corners of the world.

As part of his quest around 18 months ago, Newall became the first Briton to ski the gruelling 911km (570 miles) in a 41-day solo trip to the South Pole from the Messner Start on the Filchner Ice Shelf at the edge of the Antarctic continent.

He reached the South Pole having spent his birthday on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and seeing in the New Year pulling two heavy sleds with his equipment across the polar ice cap.

At times visibility was so bad he could not see beyond the end of his skis!

At one point the snow collapsed beneath his skis to reveal a gaping crevasse.

There are no half measures for Newall. This Full Adventurers Grand Slam is a step up from the Last Degree Grand Slam which most adventurers undertake as it only involves travelling the last 60 nautical miles to both Poles.

“That’s easy,” he said, adding: “Now that I am at home with my equipment unpacked and stowed in its cupboard I am beginning to wonder what’s next!”