Simon Murray hopes a 1,300km odyssey to the South Pole will encourage today's young people to see life as an adventure Hong Kong taipan, former French Foreign Legionnaire and veteran adventurer Simon Murray blushes a little and takes a deep breath before answering. 'I have written my will,' he replies, smiling warmly. 'But I do not think it will come to that.' Mr Murray, 63, is about to embark on a remarkable 1,300km odyssey to trek unaided to the South Pole. It is a death-defying mission involving sub-zero temperatures, ice, winds and hidden crevasses. But the former Hutchison Whampoa empire builder is not blind to the risks. He reels off impressive accounts of men with heroic hearts and equal temper who have gone before and perished or survived on the unforgiving Antarctic continent; great adventurers and leaders of men such as Robert Falcon Scott and Douglas Mawson. Fewer than 30 other explorers have made the journey. But Mr Murray is confident the voyage will not be his last. If he makes it he will be the oldest person by more than a decade to reach the southern pinnacle. 'It is the coldest, the windiest, and the least-known continent on Earth,' he said, speaking at his home in Stanley before flying back to London last night to begin the final phase of his training. 'There are no tracks, no paths, and any of the explorers who have gone before describe it as Hell on Earth ... everyone has a terrible time of it.' Mr Murray and his companion Pen Hadlow - the first man to complete a solo, unsupported walk to the North Pole from the North American continent - plan to pull 110kg of food, cooking fuel and other gear on sledges in a journey expected to take 70 days, starting in the last week of November. 'There will be no dogs, no mechanical or outside assistance of any kind.' He has drawn inspiration from Igjugarjuk, an Innuit, who said in 1922: 'All true wisdom is to be found far from the dwellings of men in the great solitudes. Suffering and privation are the only things that can open the mind to that which is hidden from his fellows.' Also behind the push into the frozen wilderness is a motive close to the heart of the 36-year veteran of Asian business. 'We are raising money to help unlock the archives of the Royal Geographical Society and open up that vast reservoir of knowledge and maps and manuscripts to our youth,' he said. 'Unlocking and digitalising this material for the general public and the internet will bring huge benefits to education throughout the world.' He said the archives contained great stories of leadership, heroism and adventure and rare material such as Darwin's sextant, David Livingston's hand-drawn map of Victoria Falls and John Hunt's diaries of the first ascent of Everest. 'When I was a boy I read books on the French Revolution, American Civil War, the Crimean War, the African wars,' he said. 'I followed the explorers of Africa down the Nile. Burton, Livingston, Stanley; Kipling and John Masters took me to India. I travelled with Drake, Vasco da Gama, Columbus, Magellan. 'And I wanted to be like them, and live up to their standards.' But he fears there has been a general decline in the values and ambition of modern youth. 'The heroes for the children of today are Michael Jackson, David Beckham and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of the terminator ... which is okay to a point. 'But if I pull through with this journey, and we can dust off the old manuscripts, maybe we can also resurrect the old heroes and bring new meaning to the life of all people, both young and old.'