Man trekking over 100km to South Pole in memory of his mother

A man from Newcastle is taking on what can only be described as one of most physical and mental challenges, on the coldest continent on earth.

Michael Mitten from Newcastle is heading to the end of the earth in memory of his mother.

But Michael is no stranger to these kind of extreme conditions and challenges of this scale. The 41-year-old is already something of an accomplished adventurer.

Michael had his first experience of the polar wilderness in 2009 when he trekked to the North Pole 10 years ago in memory of his late Father, raising £40,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Michael did his first trek in memory of his late father Credit: Family Photo

After the loss of his mother Christine in 2016 to Multiple Sclerosis, Michael set his sights on a challenge in Antarctica. Christine Mitten, spent over 18 years living with MS before she passed away.

Michael will trek across the last degree of latitude, crossing 60 nautical miles for 7-10 days across a barren and hostile environment to the South Pole, whilst pulling 80 kilograms of equipment and supplies on board.

Christine Mitten lived with MS for 18 years before she passed away Credit: Family Photo

This epic expedition is in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Michael has set a fundraising target of £50,000, with a hope of funding research into the disease and helping others, living with the same life-limiting illness that his mother had.

We caught up with Michael before he set off on his epic exhibition.

Michael's trek in numbers:

£50,000

The fundraising target he has set himself to donate to the multiple Sclerosis Society.

-27℃

Average daytime temperature when the sun is out.

-37℃

Average temperature on a night.

111 km

or 60 nautical mile. The total distance Michael is trekking on foot.

9,301ft

The altitude that Michael and Doug are trekking at.

By taking on this extreme challenge, Michael and his guide Doug Stoup, join a group of less than 250 people in the world, to have reached both the North and South Poles on foot.

The Arctic and Antarctic are extremely different environments, each with their own extreme conditions and challenges.

Despite having already completed one Polar trek, Michael will come up against different challenges on this expedition.

At the North Pole, Michael was faced with risks of thin ice and grumpy polar bears.

We spoke to Michael on the phone on Thursday 12 December, on day 3 of his expedition, he said the South Pole is forcing him to push himself beyond his own physical limitations.

He is struggling with altitude sickness, an even more intense cold than at the North Pole and the daily risk of oxygen deprivation.

It is tough. Much tougher than I could have imagined. The altitude sickness is making me feel like every muscle hurts, every step is labored and hard work, meaning we are traveling at a slower pace than we expected.

Michael Mitten, Speaking via Sat-phone from Antarctica

Michael said so far, they have been quite lucky with the weather. While there has been a lot of snow, they have so far avoided being caught up in any storms.

The heavy snowfall is however, making the trekking conditions a little tougher.

The snow underfoot is making it really heavy to walk on. Along with all the equipment we have, it's really tough. Obviously we are pulling along everything we will need for throughout the expedition so we have around 80kgs of equipment that we'll pulling along behind us. Our kit is at it's heaviest at start of the trek. As we continue, we'll work our way through the food and fuel so the load should start to lighten but, it has been difficult the past few days. I had a tough night last night. I had a hyperthermic incident, but Doug, who is on the trek with me, got me a hot water bottle and got me into my seeping bag to try and warm up for half an hour. Mentally, that was hard, but I just keep thinking about why I'm doing this and it spurs me on. I've just got to stay positive.

Michael Mitten, Speaking via Sat-phone from Antarctica