A British adventurer has become the youngest woman to ski solo to the South Pole.
Mollie Hughes, 29, started her world record attempt on 13 November and battled through treacherous conditions including snowstorms and temperatures of -45C (-49F).
Ms Hughes, from Edinburgh, set off from Hercules Inlet in Western Antarctica and skied eastwards for 702 miles, arriving at the South Pole on Friday at 8.50am local time.
She said she was proud of her achievement, describing the journey as “super surreal but absolutely amazing”.
She said her introduction to Antarctica was a whiteout of snow and high winds.
“On day six or seven I really pushed and pushed all day long up horrible icy slopes and I couldn’t see anything and when I pitched my tent after seven and a half hours I looked at my GPS and I realised I’d only done three and a half miles,” she said.
“You think of all the things you take for granted like a bed and taking a shower.”
Ms Hughes, who became the youngest person to successfully climb both the north and south sides of Mount Everest in 2017, revealed she got through the latest experience by taking one day at a time and focusing on home.
She said she struggled with the feeling of isolation, since she only encountered two other skiers during her trek.
She continued: “You don’t really believe it’s a real person because all you see is white and then in the distance you see this person and you have a brief chat and then go separate ways.
“The biggest challenge of the whole trip was being alone. Not physically – I can ski on my own – but being on your own emotionally is so weird.”
After completing the journey, Ms Hughes enjoyed a fry up when she reached camp at the South Pole of “fried eggs, sausages, toast and fresh food”.
She navigated by compass through 30-knot winds, which took temperatures down to -40C (-40F), and at one point entered complete whiteout conditions which lasted eight days.
During the expedition, she pulled a 105kg sled, which she named Boudicca, and skied alone between 10 and 12 hours a day.
She said Christmas Day was one of the highlights of the trip, where she was given some respite and opened gifts in her food stores, including her favourite sweets from her girlfriend Tegan.
Ms Hughes, who grew up in Devon, is now recuperating at a camp at the South Pole before flying to southern Chile.
She funded the expedition by raising £75,000 from sponsors and crowdfunding, and used the trek to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of the charity, said she was in awe of Ms Hughes’ “determination and resilience” and thanked her for using the trek to raise funds to beat cancer.
“We receive no government funding and it’s thanks to people like Mollie that we’re able to continue to fund world leading research,” she added.
News reporter @luciabinding A British adventurer has become the youngest woman to ski solo to the South Pole. Mollie Hughes, 29, started her world record attempt on 13 November and battled through treacherous conditions including snowstorms and temperatures of -45C (-49F).