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‘I’ve never climbed higher than Gas Hill’: TV astronomer Mark Thompson tackles Borneo summit

PUBLISHED: 12:32 14 May 2018

Astronomer Mark Thompson. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Astronomer Mark Thompson. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Things are looking up for Norfolk’s celebrity stargazer Mark Thompson.

Astronomer Mark Thompson on his 2017 Arctic trek. Picture: Courtesy Mark ThompsonAstronomer Mark Thompson on his 2017 Arctic trek. Picture: Courtesy Mark Thompson

The TV astronomer has set off on a seven-day expedition to climb to the summit of Mount Kinabalu in Borneo.

Joined by fellow TV presenter Helen Fospero and three other celebrities, he will be climbing to raise money for Barnardo’s, a charity caring for vulnerable children and young people.

Mr Thomspon completed an Arctic trek last year.

At 4,095m, Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia and is amongst the most important biological sites in the world, with between 5,000 and 6,000 species of plants, 326 species of birds, and more than 100 mammal species identified in the area.

Astronomer Mark Thompson and Helen Fospero on the 2017 Arctic trek. Picture: Courtesy Mark ThompsonAstronomer Mark Thompson and Helen Fospero on the 2017 Arctic trek. Picture: Courtesy Mark Thompson

He set off on Saturday, May 12 with a custom made piece of hardware from The Things Network Norfolk and Suffolk, named the Thompson Tracker, which he will carry up to the summit.

The box will sample the atmospheric conditions as they ascend to measure temperature, pressure and humidity while calculating altitude from the information based on the international standard atmosphere.

Mr Thompson said: “We’re doing this to raise funds for Barnardo’s. We plan to return on May 19 with the summit taking place on the 17th.

“I’ve never climbed anything higher than Gas Hill, so am expecting this to be quite tough. This is not a mountain that everyone has climbed and it’s off the beaten track, which makes it quite challenging.

“It’s going to be an amazing experience, I’m excited about sleeping under canvass in the jungle and seeing the night sky, but it’s not going to be a picnic. I think it’s going to be a challenge, physically and mentally, so I really hope everyone helps us to raise as much money as possible for Barnardo’s.”

The climb is part of Barnardo’s overseas challenge. Last year challengers overcame the snowy forecasts and sub-zero temperatures of arctic Finland. This year they’re facing the mountains and rainforests of Borneo.

Over the week the team will trek through lowland rainforest, scale sacred mountains and will learn a range of skills to equip them for jungle life.

■ Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mark-thompson91


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