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  1. ITV Report

Cumbrian climber sends season's greetings from Antarctica

"Merry Christmas from the Spectre expedition" Photo: Leo Houlding

A Cumbrian climber and his mountaineering team have taken time out their 70-day expedition in Antartica to celebrate Christmas Day and send a message of season's greetings back home.

Leo Houlding, 35, from the Lake District, is leading a three-man international team on a 2000km trans-continental journey.

It involves climbing the 750m south buttress of a peak called the Spectre in the Gothic Mountains of Antarctica.

Leo, Jean Burgun and Mark Sedon celebrated Christmas in sub-zero temperatures, eating seasonal food, enjoying festive music, and exchanging gifts:

Season’s greetings! We’re 220km from the South Pole, it’s -23C, but sunny and with no wind, it actually feels sort of warm. We have smoked salmon, Antarctic breeze cocktails (vodka and electrolyte mix), crackers to pull and Christmas classics on the iPod!

We’re missing our families but loving our adventure. May the wind bring us home to you swiftly and safely for more celebrations! Big love to all from the Spectre Exped crew.

With a few select adornments, we decorated the tent and built a Christmas sastrugi man, exchanged small gifts (the best being a set of zebra boxers from Jean to Mark!), and pulled crackers.

Mark gave me a card forwarded from Freya who had drawn me a beautiful picture of mummy, daddy, Jackson and Freya under a rainbow. I’m not the teary type, but I cried.

We miss our loved dearly after six weeks away already. We have spoken on the sat phone and it is a warm feeling to know that our families are together, happy and celebrating. We know we are missed as we miss them, but are happy to send love from this forever winter place.

I believe in Father Christmas and he is going to bring us a wind to ride all the way home. First I shall continue pigging out on chocolate and the queen’s own Fudge from Penrith toffee shop!

Happy Christmas everybody and to anybody reading thanks for joining us for this most extraordinary Antarctic ride!”

– Leo Houlding, BRITISH ROCK CLIMBER