AN Antarctic adventurer from Gosport will meet Prince Charles today ahead of an epic challenge across the frozen continent.
Ian Prickett, a former apprentice in the ship repairs department at Portsmouth Dockyard, is one of a six-man team about to set off to attempt the first trans-Antarctic winter crossing.
Led by famed explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the Coldest Journey expedition will involve the men trekking nearly 2000 miles in almost complete darkness and in temperatures of minus 90 degrees Celcius.
The project team will conduct scientific experiments whilst on the ice and also raise money for Seeing Is Believing, an international charity dedicated to tackling blindness.
The team will sail for Antarctica later today on the specially-adapted SA Agulhas, which is taking on supplies at Canary Wharf in London.
Prince Charles will visit the ship before its departure and the team is also expected to be met by actress Joanna Lumley.
The team will carry out scientific research from the Agulhas after reaching the Antarctic in a month’s time.
The six-month expedition across the Antarctic, from the Russian base of Novolazareskaya to the Ross Sea, is set to begin next March and is expected to take six months.
Ian Prickett, 35, is used to the extreme weather of the region - he works for the British Antarctic Survey at Halley Research Station, positioned on the Brunt Ice Shelf.
Describing his job to The News earlier this year, he said: ‘The challenges we face out here are certainly one of the reasons I enjoy the job so much.
‘We constantly have to overcome certain problems that arise, such as a lack of stock, no stock, or pre-fabricated components that don’t fit.
‘We can’t just pop down to the local hardware store to buy what we need so it involves a lot of head-scratching and improvisation to get some jobs completed.
‘As well as this, the Antarctic weather can be a major challenging factor. We often have storms passing through that blow constant 30 knot winds which pick up all the snow and bury anything left on the surface within minutes.
‘Visibility can drop to less than a metre in minutes and the temperatures can plummet to -30 with wind chill towards the end of the season.’
To read the full interview with Ian last January, click here.
For details on how to donate money to Seeing is Believing, go to thecoldestjourney.org