Mollie Hughes set to become youngest woman to ski solo to South Pole today

She set off on her 702-mile trek in November.

By Elsa Maishman
Friday, 10th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 10th January 2020, 9:18 am
Picture: Hamish Frost
Picture: Hamish Frost

Edinburgh-based adventurer Mollie Hughes is due to reach the South Pole today after 58 days of trekking 702 miles across Antarctica.

At 29, Ms Hughes is set to become the youngest woman to have reached the Pole solo.

She set off from Hercules Inlet in Antarctica on November 13, and has faced head winds, soft snow, whiteouts, steep hills and temperatures of minus 45 degrees Celsius.

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Her original plan was to reach the geographic South Pole by New Year’s Day, but due to harsh weather conditions she has made slower progress than expected.

Ms Hughes is now nearing her record-breaking goal and was just 19 nautical miles from the South Pole at her last social media update on Thursday.

The total journey of 600 nautical miles is longer than a return trip from Edinburgh to London, and covers 10 degrees.

Ms Hughes has been in training for the trek since this time last year, and is no stranger to difficult conditions as in 2017 she became the youngest person to climb both the north and south sides of Mount Everest.

Picture: Hamish Frost

Despite this, she has had to ‘dig very deep’ in order to keep going with her mission.

“Today I had to dig very deep, exhaustion is beginning to paw at my body... but 33NM to the South Pole! Two more big days and one short day - Friday!” she wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

She has previously spoken of the ‘mental challenge’ of being on her own for so long, admitting when she reached the halfway point that she ‘really missed laughing’.

Only six women and 17 men have so far successfully completed the route to the South Pole alone and unsupported.

Ms Hughes spent Christmas between 86 and 87 degrees south, where she opened cards from her family and some surprise gifts from logistics company ALE in her food stores, including chocolate cake and fresh fruit.

Her girlfriend Tegan also packed a Christmas gift into Hughes’ sled of her favourite sweets, Revels, chocolate-covered pretzels and a bar of honeycomb chocolate with a picture of hometown Edinburgh on the front.

Ms Hughes has also had to contend with not having been able to take a shower for eight weeks, as well as reaching her last clean pair of pants on Monday.

She has been pulling a 90kg sled named ‘Boudicca’ after the warrior queen who led a revolt against Roman rule, packed with all the provisions needed for the length of her expedition.

The current record for the youngest woman to ski solo to the South Pole is Swedish Johanna Davidson, who was 33.

Ms Hughes raised more than £75,000 for the trip.

She even offered to “auction off a bum cheek” in exchange for the £15,000 shortfall in her funding before Dunfermline-based company ATAG stepped in to save her the trouble.