Portsmouth police officer completes epic 600-mile solo expedition to the South Pole

A POLICE officer has defied the odds to complete a solo mission to the South Pole.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th February 2020, 12:59 am

Neil Hunter, a Portsmouth police officer, was diagnosed with type two diabetes in 2005.

But that has not stopped the former Royal Navy engineer reaching the South Pole on January 15, two days before the 108th anniversary of Captain Scott’s arrival there.

To reach it to the South Pole unassisted is a feat very few have accomplished.

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Neil Hunter at the South Pole. Picture: Supplied

‘Only around 30 people have skied solo, unassisted and unsupported to the South Pole so I was very happy and relieved to join this very select club of polar adventurers,’ Neil said.

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‘It was the experience of a lifetime – in the endless white landscape under perfect blue skies, I encountered crevasses, snowdrifts and the most beautiful wind-formed ice sculptures.

‘I had three days of whiteouts which was pretty disorientating but overall, the head winds weren’t too terrible and in that sense, I was lucky.’

Trekking the 600 nautical miles meant Neil had to ski for 10 hours each day.

But even once he was worn out from the skiing, sleeping was also a challenge – since each day had 24 hours of sunlight.

However, Neil’s biggest worry was letting his insulin get too low.

He said: ‘I kept my blood sugar levels slightly elevated the whole time because I didn't want to risk going too low and having a hypo on my own in the most desolate terrain on planet earth.

‘I feel I managed my diabetes well given the extreme conditions and returned home with a bit of frostnip on my fingertips and because my vision was affected whilst I was out there, I need new glasses.

‘Funnily enough, coming back has been the hardest bit, as the tiredness has finally hit. Adapting to everyday life is taking some time but day by day, I’m getting there.’

Luckily for Neil, this wasn't his first big adventure, having previously scaled the peak of Denali in North America, skied across the Greenland icecap and rowed the Atlantic Ocean.

Neil’s polar adventure has also raised £2,991.30 for Diabetes UK. To donate, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/southpolesolo