ALEX KUMAR, Whaley Bridge’s Antarctic adventurer, has completed his 11 months of research in the coldest place on earth. He came home briefly just before Christmas – meeting up with his long-time girl friend Kathy, their Siberian husky Misha and taking in his sister Natasha’s wedding – then was off again responding to the lure of Antarctica.
After freezing, lonely and mostly dark months at the Concordia science station, where the European Space Agency monitors volunteers to see how they would respond to space travel and possibly living on Mars, Alex is on his way back to the icy continent.
He is working with a new expedition, the Shackleton Epic, led by Tim Jarvis. They all flew to Argentina on 27 December. They will re-enact Ernest Shackleton’s journey in a small open boat across the Southern Ocean, past Cape Horn, to Elephant Island. There, Alex will leave the team, who travel on foot across the icy mountains to South Georgia. Alex continues the sea journey to the British outpost, which was an early trigger in the Falklands crisis, hopefully meeting up with a successful team.
Adventurer Alex will be back in the UK at the end of February. In the spring, he will be in Africa teaching anaesthetics to doctors in a Zambia hospital. Then from April to October, he will be studying tropical medicine in Thailand, returning in the autumn to his hospital job in Oxford.
There’s more adventure to come. Alex will be back in Antarctica in November 2014 on yet another expedition, going on foot across the snows and following the route Shackleton had planned 100 years before. He will be the team doctor, carrying the flags of Britain and India (his dad is Indian and his mum is English, living in Whaley Bridge).
Alex is taking part in the TV recording of the latest adventure, to be seen on the Discovery Channel in the autumn.
In the short time he was back in Britain, Alex had a hectic round of mountain training on Snowdonia and Dartmoor, linking up with Sir Ralph Fiennes who at 68 is about to fly out to Capetown to pick up the research ship which takes him and the crew to Antarctica on yet another expedition. They hope to make the first ever winter crossing, via Captain Scott’s base. Although Alex is not a member of this expedition, he has advised them as a doctor on physical and psychological challenges.
The Buxton wedding of Alex’s sister Natasha, a well-known artist in London, to writer Benedict Flynn, was a highlight of the family reunion. There was a reunion also with the husky Misha, now a bouncy one year old. One day Alex wants to take her for a long run from Norway across northern Russia.
Next May, when Alex becomes 30, it will be the ninth of his ten last birthdays spent abroad.