Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh couple to attempt world-first trek in Alaska

Luke and Hazel Robertson Image copyright The Robertsons

An Edinburgh couple are aiming to trek from the southernmost tip to northernmost point of the Alaskan mainland in what is thought will be a world first.

Luke and Hazel Robertson estimate the expedition will take about 80 days and will cover more than 2,000 miles.

They plan to kayak, cycle and run the distance and will travel through rainforest, glaciers, mountains, tundra desert and the Arctic Ocean.

The expedition will begin in May.

Last year, Luke became the first Scot to complete a solo, unassisted and unsupported trek to the South Pole.

The couple, originally from Stonehaven, told the BBC Scotland news website: "It will be a real privilege to journey through this unique land.

"We're actually excited by the physical endurance challenge that comes with an expedition of this scale. We will be out there for almost three months, which will be tough both mentally and physically, but very rewarding too."

Image copyright The Robertsons
Image caption Luke and Hazel Robertson will cycle part of the way in the Alaskan wilderness
Image copyright Luke and Hazel Robertson
Image caption As part of their preparations for the world first attempt, the couple will take part in the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert

The Robertsons will need to contend with the presence of bears while in Alaska, but they will also be wary of another, perhaps surprising, companion.

"There are much smaller things to worry about - midges," the Robertsons added. "They are plentiful over there in the summer months to say the least, so we'll be well prepared for those too."

The couple, who are both 31, are keen to engage young Scots as part of their journey, which will be called Due North: Alaska. As well as regular filming and social media updates, they will work with the Scottish government body Education Scotland with the aim of engaging young people with wildlife.

Luke was inspired to undertake his first expedition, entitled Due South, at the end of 2015. He raised money for Marie Curie after undergoing brain surgery to remove a suspected tumour.

During his journey, he received tweets of support from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, as well as adventurers Mark Beaumont and Levison Wood.

Image copyright Luke Robertson
Image caption Luke became the first Scot to complete a solo, unassisted and unsupported trek to the South Pole in 2016

Luke spent Christmas and New Year at the South Pole as part of the 39-day trek but for this expedition, there will be different challenges.

He said: "Skiing to the South Pole was an incredible experience and so heading into another big wilderness seems like the next logical step.

"It will be much tougher distance wise - we're travelling about three times the 730 miles that I skied to the South Pole and this expedition will take at least double the time."

Mr Robertson added: "Because we are effectively cycling the length of the UK, kayaking the distance from the UK to Iceland, and then running 30 marathons - all back to back - fitness levels have to be greater too, and so we've been building up the strength and fitness required.

"It'll be nice to have some company - 40 days by yourself is a long time - so I'm hoping not to hallucinate quite so much.

"Antarctica is a beautiful and very special place, but it'll be great to see a little more varied scenery and wildlife, as well as having someone to chat to other than my sledge."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites