A mountaineer from South Tyneside is certain of getting a white Christmas – by heading off to Antarctica.
For the last 10 years Steve Berry has been completing a ‘seven summit odyssey’ which has so far seen him climb the highest peaks on six of the world’s seven continents.
Today he’s embarking on the final chapter of his quest as he sets off to the Antarctic to climb Mount Vinson.
Mr Berry, from Central Avenue, South Shields, said: “I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out how to get all my gear I need to survive in the Antarctic into just two bags.
“My journey starts 2.30pm today, leaving from Newcastle Airport, which is my second home. I will then have 12 flights in total, six there and six back.
“Weather permitting we head over to Antarctica on Tuesday. The Russian transport plane we are using has to land on a glacier which is three miles long. It can’t use brakes for obvious reasons.”
Mr Berry has has conquered Mount Everest in the Himalayas, Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, Argentina’s Aconcagua, Mount Denali in Alaska and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mount Elbrus in Russia.
But was by sheer luck that saw the 61-year-old secured a place on his latest mission. Last month he and his climbing partner Ray Smith climbed Mount Ama Dablam in Nepal - not a peak which is part of Mr Berry’s odyssey.
The duo were forced to abandon their original trek there in October 2014 after being caught in the eye of the storm as freak blizzards and a massive avalanche battered the region, leading to a death toll of over 40 people. Then last year the pair returned to Nepal, but once again weather conditions weren’t on their side.
While climbing Mount Ama Dablam Mr Berry bumped into a fellow walker who offered him a reduced rate to take his place on the Antarctic expedition.
He had been trying to raise £40,000 in funds for the journey and said it was ‘an offer he could refuse’.
Despite his adventures all over the world in recent years, Mr Berry says he is still a little bit nervous about his latest task.
He said: “At the moment I’m feeling apprehensive which is normal for me.
“It does feel strange that, after 10 years, my seven summits odyssey could be coming to an end.
“Provisionally we hope to reach the summit on about January 5.
“At least I’ll be guaranteed a white Christmas.”