Mission accomplished as ski trekker reaches South Pole

Date: Saturday 1st January 2005

WHILE much of Eden itself looked like Antarctica over Christmas, a Newton Reigny couple were overjoyed at the news that their son-in-law had safely reached the South Pole on Tuesday.

Craig Mathieson completed a 730-mile ski trek which will raise about £1 million for charity, while his wife, Michele, aged 33, and their three young children Layla, who is nine tomorrow, Jake, aged six, and one-year-old Ruari, were all eagerly awaiting the news at her mother and father’s Newton Reigny home where she and the three children spent Christmas together.

Chris and Sheila Clark, of The Gables, said it had been great having their daughter and grandchildren with them over Christmas while their 35-year-old son-in-law, Mr. Mathieson, fulfilled a lifelong dream to reach the South Pole. They were relieved he had got there safely.

Mr. Mathieson let his wife know in a telephone call from his tent pitched close to the pole at 8pm, UK time, to let the family know that he made it.

His progress over the past two months has been closely monitored by the family through e-mails and telephone calls direct from the ice cap. He had been skiing towards the pole in the company of five other travellers since leaving Hercules Inlet on 3rd November. It is the first time a Scottish team had man-hauled sledges to the South Pole.

Mr. Mathieson, who works as a tax consultant with accountancy firm Ernst & Young in Edinburgh, told his wife he was very pleased to be there and was proud that he had done it. The trip, however, had not been without its difficulties. One of his team mates, Fiona Taylor, had to return home with frostbite and he suffered slight irritation in his right knee towards the end, but said that if he couldn’t have skied he would have crawled to the pole!

The party had at times experienced difficult conditions with temperatures ranging from minus 52C at the start of the expedition to a reportedly “warm” minus 14C. They came across very high winds and total “white out” conditions, which Mr. Mathieson described as “like walking around inside a bottle of milk all day”.

On getting to his final destination, Mr. Mathieson said: “I can’t begin to put into words the enormous sense of achievement I felt as I finally touched the actual South Pole itself, all these years of dreaming now a fantastic reality. It was quite an emotional moment for me, years of wanting this moment as well as a very intensive 18 months of preparation all coming to a head.

“After setting up my tent, only about 50 yards from the pole, which I could look at by opening my tent door, I called my wife and simply said, ‘I’ve done it’. I have been thinking about that call for weeks now. The thought certainly kept me going through the tougher times.”

He should be reunited with his family at their Scottish home within the next two weeks.

He had been sponsored by his company and supported by colleagues so that he could achieve the ambition while helping to raise funds for charities including Childline, Cancer Research UK, Multiple Sclerosis Society and Scottish Huntingtons Association. If anybody is interested in finding out more there is a website, www.scot100.co.uk.