Edinburgh adventurer Mollie Hughes sets off on record-breaking South Pole trek

Edinburgh-based explorer Mollie Hughes has set off on an attempt to become the youngest woman to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole.
Mollie Hughes hopes to be the youngest woman ever to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole.Mollie Hughes hopes to be the youngest woman ever to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole.
Mollie Hughes hopes to be the youngest woman ever to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole.

The 29-year-old will first fly to Patagonia, before crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica and beginning her 702-mile trek on November 14.

The trek is expected to take between 45 and 50 days and she aims to reach the Geographic South Pole by New Year’s Day.

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Ms Hughes will have to withstand temperatures of minus 50C as she drags her 90kg sled, navigating natural obstacles like crevasse fields and 6ft high winds.

She is no stranger to harsh conditions, as in 2017 she became the youngest person to climb both the north and south sides of Mount Everest.

She has been training since January, often to be seen hauling heavy rubber tyres along the beach near Dalmeny House in South Queensferry in preparation for pulling a sled with enough provisions to see her through the length of the trek.

To date only six women and 17 men have completed the journey to the South Pole solo and unsupported.

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The current record for the youngest woman to do so is Swedish Johanna Davidson, who was 33 years old when she reached the Pole.

Ms Hughes has has raised £75,000 for the expedition, and made headlines in September by offering to ‘auction off a bum cheek’ in exchange for the £15,000 shortfall in her funding target.

She offered to let anyone who donated that amount choose anything they wanted to be tattooed on her left buttock.

The prize specifically referred to the left side as in 2011 Ms Hughes auctioned off her right bum cheek in a similar fundraising campaign before climbing Mount Everest.

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Dunfermline-based boiler and heating business ATAG spotted her online Crowdfuing campaign and stepped in with the necessary £15,000.

However, to Ms Hughes’ relief the company let her off her pledge and decided that no bum tattoo was required.

Ms Hughes also received funding from Gore, the company behind GORE-TEX clothing and equipment, and Kae Tinto, an ambassador for Cancer Research UK.

Ms Hughes, who lost three of her grandparents to cancer, hopes to use this expedidtion to raise money for the charity.

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She has launched an online appeal for sponsorship for the gruelling journey, and will direct funds to research into cervical cancer in particular.

On leaving the country, Ms Hughes said: “I’ve been planning and training for this expedition for more than a year and while I know it’s going to the hardest challenge I’ve ever faced, I’m excited to get to Antarctica and get started.

“I’m doing this for many reasons; not just to challenge myself, but to inspire others, especially women, to explore what can be achieved when you push yourself out of your comfort zone.

“I’m also using this expedition to help raise funds and awareness for causes that are close to my heart. Cancer affects almost every family including my own so I’m keen to do everything I can to support vital research to develop better treatments for cancer.”