Edinburgh woman bids to be youngest ever to ski across Antarctica to South Pole

Scottish Adventurer Mollie Hughes has announced a bid to become the youngest woman ever to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole.

Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 7:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 7:31 am
Mollie Hughes on south side of Everest during her 2012 climb.
Mollie Hughes on south side of Everest during her 2012 climb.

The challenge will see fearless Mollie travel across 702 miles of Antarctica, aiming to reach the South Pole by New Year’s Day.

The Devon-born mountaineer, who lives in Edinburgh, became the youngest person to have successfully climbed both the north and south sides of Mount Everest in 2017, when she was aged 26.

Her next adventure will begin in mid-November, when she leaves from Hercules Inlet in Western Antarctica for the gruelling mission.

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Mollie Huges will be undertaking a mammoth challenge in Antarctica

If successful, Mollie will be the youngest woman by four years to achieve the feat, and has taken to North Berwick beach to train by hauling heavy tyres along the sand.

The current record is held by Johanna Davidson from Sweden, who was 33 when she completed the same route solo and unsupported by a back-up team and no chance of being re-supplied.

Temperatures will be around minus 50C, and she faces hauling her 75kg sled across crevasse fields while also negotiating 6ft “waves” of snow.

Mollie, who is seeking to raise £100,000 for the expedition, aims to raise awareness of The Polar Academy, a youth mental health charity for which she was recently appointed a guide.

Mollie Hughes in training as she has announced her bid to become the youngest woman ever to ski solo to the South Pole. Pic: PA

She said: “I’m fully aware that to ski solo 702 miles through the world’s coldest and most unforgiving terrain will require immense mental and physical strength.

“To date, records show that only six women and 17 men have ever completed the Hercules Inlet route on skis, alone and without resupply.

“Aside from the unrelenting cold, I envisage my constant battle with facing all the challenges on my own will be the toughest challenge down there.”

As part of her preparations, Mollie will undertake a two-week expedition in Arctic Norway in March followed by 15 days on the ice of Eastern Greenland.

She will undergo intense fitness and extreme weather training in the same area where British special forces are schooled in surviving the toughest conditions. Molly is being advised by The Polar Academy founder Craig Mathieson, who led Scotland’s first dedicated expedition to the South Pole in 2004.

He said: “I have no doubt that she has the skills and mental toughness to achieve her goal. Success will further underline Mollie’s credentials as an inspirational explorer and as a role model for young people in Scotland and throughout the world.”

Following her first climb of Mount Everest Mollie returned to Edinburgh to “be somewhere closer to the mountains”.