Andy Murray’s brother-in-law is gearing up for an Antarctic adventure as he tries to become the youngest person to reach the South Pole solo.
Lieutenant Scott Sears, of the First Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, hopes to complete the 702-mile trek in 40 to 50 days.
He is attempting to become the youngest person to walk to the South Pole completely unassisted and unsupported. If successful, he will beat the record by two years.
Lt Sears is set to fly to Chile on Wednesday before heading to Hercules Inlet on Antarctica’s Weddell Sea a few days later.
He said it had been a “mad dash” to get his kit ready.
“I am very excited – it has been two years in the planning so it is nice to finally be under way,” said the 27-year-old, who lives in Shoreditch, east London.
“I’m looking forward to the moment where I finally get chucked out the side of the plane and I am actually there looking out at the expanse of Antarctica after years of visualising it and dreaming of it.”
Lt Sears, whose older sister Kim married Murray in 2015, said he hopes to arrive at the South Pole in time for Christmas Day.
He is aiming to raise more than £25,000 for the Gurkha Welfare Trust to help rebuild schools in Gorkha, Nepal, destroyed in the earthquake of 2015.
“We are hopefully going to rename one of the schools after Rifleman Suraj. He was the last member of 9 Platoon, which is the platoon I took over, to be killed in Afghanistan,” he said.
Braving temperatures of up to minus 60C as well as 100mph winds, Lt Sears will walk and ski over crevasse fields, glaciers and the Antarctic plateau.
Admitting it is “a very, very strange life choice” and something which did not initially excite his mother, he said his whole family is “very supportive”.
“I used to do quite a lot of mountaineering but polar travel and polar exploration always appealed to me – a solo expedition is about as challenging as you can get both mentally and physically,” he said.
The 6ft 5in former tennis player will burn more than 10,000 calories a day as he pulls a 100kg sledge, also known as a pulk, containing his food, fuel and equipment.
He said his training had involved dragging tyres along beaches, gym sessions and trips to Norway and the Arctic to train in cold conditions.
“I am lucky that the Gurkhas are probably the fittest out there, and I have to keep up with them all the time, so I have to stay quite fit,” said Lt Sears. “We are light infantry so we carry our houses on our back most of the time anyway, so for me it was getting used to dragging rather than carrying.”
He will be taking 50 days worth of “quite tasty” dehydrated meals with him, including chicken tikka masala and beef stroganoff, as well as salami and chocolate.