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Time to come in from the cold
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FROM dazzling night skies filled with stars to jubilee parties at the end of the earth, one Oxford doctor has been living his dream.
But for John Radcliffe doctor Alexander Kumar, his year at the South Pole is about to come to an end.
He will return home next month and said he had mixed feelings.
He said: “It's dealing with money, crowded streets and choosing fruit in a supermarket versus looking forward to having a hot bath, seeing my friends and family and feeling rain on my face again.”
“It’s strange to think I have seen only 12 other people all this year. Living in the world’s coldest, darkest, most isolated and remote place on Earth has been an experience.
“Celebrating my 29th birthday in -70C was a highlight.”
Another highlight was visiting the camp set up by Captain Scott on his ill-fated journey to the South Pole 100 years ago.
Dr Kumar works as a trainee anaesthetist doctor with the Oxford School of Anaesthesia.
He was at the Concordia base working as the station’s medical doctor and conducting human spaceflight research for the European Space Agency.
It saw him endure three months of 24-hour darkness and near-total isolation from the rest of the world.
He said: “My only expectation for the Antarctic winter was that I wanted to enter into it smiling and emerge from the other end still smiling.
“It hasn’t been like that all the way through. We’ve had to deal with many problems. But we are all still standing and that’s the important thing.
“Make no mistake undergoing the Antarctic winter is a psychological marathon. And there is no turning back – once you are locked in, that’s it, you may as well throw away and forget about the key.
“It is the best and worst of times. Antarctica is a place of dreams and nightmares. It offers an adventure like no other.”
He added: “But if you asked me if I would still have done it again knowing all this? Of course I would. You have to. Undergoing the Antarctica winter here is one of the world’s greatest journeys.”