Brain surgery Scot takes on South Pole challenge

In less than three weeks’ time, Stonehaven-born Luke Robertson will attempt to be the first Scot and youngest Brit to complete a solo, unsupported expedition to the South Pole during his “Due South 2015” expedition.

Originally a resident of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, Luke Robertson now lives in Edinburgh. Photo: Luke Robertson
Originally a resident of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, Luke Robertson now lives in Edinburgh. Photo: Luke Robertson

The 30 year-old has already raised approximately £23,000 for the Marie Curie cancer charity; an organisation close to his heart after he underwent surgery for suspected brain cancer in 2014.

Edinburgh resident Luke Robertson will drag 100kg of equipment across 730 miles of ice over 35 days, burning in excess of 10,000 calories per day in temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius. Luke’s expedition is even more remarkable as it comes just one year after his major brain surgery and only seven years after he had an artificial pacemaker fitted.

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On November 21, Luke will be setting off from the Hercules Inlet on the edge of Antarctica on his bid to become the first Scot and the youngest Brit to undertake an unassisted solo expedition to the South Pole.

Luke hopes to inspire others to overcome mental and physical challenges through this journey and has received backing from the Saltire Foundation, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Mountaineering Council for Scotland. Through the course of his expedition, supporters will be able to track him via Facebook and Twitter.

Luke, recently engaged to his fiancée, Hazel, said: “After all the training and preparation I am now eager to start the expedition and face the huge mental and physical demands the challenge will present.

“I have been overwhelmed by the support and generosities I have received so far in my fundraising efforts and know the infinite encouragement will enable me to push myself further and keep me smiling when I spend Christmas day alone!

“I’ve seen first-hand the strength of the human character and hope that through undertaking this extreme endurance expedition I can inspire others and demonstrate the ability to overcome even the most testing situations.”

Luke visited Greenland in April this year during training. Photo: Luke Robertson

Luke has also been supported by private donors, his employer Franklin Templeton Investment, Mark Beaumont and even explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE.

Patron, Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE said: “The challenge that Luke has set out to accomplish is admirable in a number of ways. Not only is he aiming to inspire others to achieve their own goals in life and also to raise funds for Marie Curie but he does so after overcoming significant health challenges in his own, relatively young life.

“Reaching the South Pole solo and unassisted is without doubt one of the most enduring challenges possible and I am delighted to support Luke in all his efforts. I wish him all the best and will be following his progress with great interest.”

While training for the expedition, Luke has travelled to Greenland, Norway and Glasgow University’s ‘Cold Chamber’. He has also dragged tyres on the hills around Edinburgh and competed in a variety of endurance events.

Luke Robertson's training regime has included dragging tyres up Blackford Hill, Edinburgh. Photo: Hazel Clyne

Mark Beaumont said: “I had the great pleasure of getting to know Luke when we were both students at Glasgow University. He has always been hugely compassionate for others and brilliantly ambitious and his Due South expedition takes both those traits to the extreme.”

Wildlife Presenter & Filmmaker, Gordon Buchanan said: “The undertaking of such an immense and unique challenge requires the demonstration of a great number of skills. Displaying perseverance and determination in overcoming any obstacle is but one.

“Having met Luke in 2014, he clearly demonstrates this trait and others. His goal of helping others to achieve their dreams is very inspiring and I am delighted to support Luke with his expedition.”

Whilst Luke has a number of private donors in place and his employer, Franklin Templeton Investments, is also supporting his efforts, he is still looking for corporate sponsors to cover the final logistics costs along with Adventure Network International. Those interested in sponsoring Luke can do so via the Due South 2015 webpage.

Luke Robertson underwent brain surgery in 2014. Photo: Luke Robertson