09 September 2010, 16:25
“I have a brother called Declan who climbs Everest and canoes for Ireland and America. He’s the one who should be doing this…not me!”
TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin has bad memories of his last experience with ice cold conditions and snow-capped mountains.
“The year before last I was dropped 15,000 feet up, on the top of Mont Blanc by helicopter, to film a piece to camera. I had altitude sickness for a week.
“And the only experience I’ve had with sleeping in tents is pretend camping with the cub scouts when I was eight. So I’m going to be in serious trouble!
What also worries him is that he suffers acutely from vertigo!
“I don’t know how I will react if there are any climbing challenges, or jumping out of planes. I really don’t want to let myself down.
“Everyone I know would jump at the chance of being pulverised by nature in a competitive way. We’re flying out there, getting kitted out and being taken away from normal everyday worries. It’s unbelievable.”
His wife Justine is worried about him, but Diarmuid believes he has the strength of character to endure the experiences in sub-zero temperatures.
“Apprehensive is the word. I feel it’s going to be a very severe test on all levels, physically and emotionally. I’m sure that viewers will be fascinated by the Arctic conditions.
“But I know that what is really interesting is people being challenged and how they cope with that. I’m concerned that I let far too much out emotionally. I never let the tears be seen on telly if I can help it.
As a youngster growing up in Ireland, he reveals he wasn’t the most popular kid when it came to being picked for sides.
“When they were choosing football teams at school, I was always the one who was left. I never got picked.
“I have never been athletic. I have a brother Declan who climbs Everest and canoes for Ireland and America. He is the one who should be doing this…not me!
“He gave me lots of advice, saying the whole trick is in packing your rucksack, and getting your weight down.
“There’s a mountain right beside our house in County Wicklow which he told me to practise climbing every day.
“I’ve climbed it once, without a rucksack. So I am in big trouble!”
He is also worried he’s not quick enough to learn new tasks.
“I am not the fastest gun in the pack. If I get something, I get it. But it takes me a while.
“I am resilient in many ways, and have quite a strong character, and lots of drive. But secretly I don’t think I’m in with a chance of winning. If there’s a sports person amongst us or someone with Arctic experience, they’ll do a lot better.
One thing he’s looking forward to is the chance to work in a team.
“I won’t be a leader. I think I’ll operate well in a group, get to know what my role is and stick with that. At work, I have a very persuasive streak and can be stubborn. But this will be different.
“What I am hoping to learn, is how much I care about competing. And how I get on with a group of strangers if we’re in close proximity. Will I laugh things off, or do things become very serious?
“I like people but I’ve got a low tolerance threshold if I think they’re being a pain. I just hope I’ll be able to act my way out of that, and pretend everything is great!”
Last updated: 09 September 2010, 16:33