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Inspirational talk from double world-record holder

By David Porter

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Aberdeen is set to welcome double world record holder Mollie Hughes from Edinburgh who has just become the youngest woman in the world to ski solo from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, completing her epic adventure on January 10.

The inspirational skier will be speaking for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) in Aberdeen on Monday, February 3.

After 58 days and 650 hours of skiing alone in whiteouts, storm-force winds and temperatures hitting minus 45C, Mollie Hughes officiall reached the Geographic South Pole on Friday, January 10.

The 29-year-old adventurer and motivational speaker, who was born in Devon and lives in Edinburgh, started her world record attempt on Wednesday, November 13 at the Hercules Inlet in Western Antarctica, skiing eastwards for 702 miles which took 59 days to complete.

Having initially hoped to reach the South Pole by New Year’s Day, her quest was almost derailed by severe weather in the first two weeks.

But despite this initial setback, Hughes battled on pulling a sled weighing 105kg, and skiing alone for between 10 and 12 hours a day.

To sustain her energy levels, Hughes consumed around 4500kcal per day, more than twice the average daily amount for a woman, with favourites including Snickers bars and freeze-dried spaghetti bolognese, which she consumed on Christmas Day.

Despite this, she lost around 15kg during her expedition.

She takes the world record from previous holder, Vilborg Gissuradottir from Iceland, who completed the challenge in 2013 when she was 32.

The feat means Hughes now holds two world records; in 2017, aged 26, she became the world’s youngest person to climb both the north and south sides of Mount Everest.

Commenting on her achievements, she said: “It’s a surreal feeling, I can’t quite believe I’ve done it.

“I knew it would be hard but this has been an exceptionally tough experience, especially in the first two weeks when I was struggling through the whiteout.

“That really tested my resilience, especially as I was all alone – but I managed to get through it and carry on.

“I feel really fortunate not to have experienced any major disasters knowing what can happen in these challenging conditions.

“ For instanst 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 I realised I’d only done three and a half miles.

“You think of all the things you take for granted like a bed and taking a shower.”

“I am also so thankful that my GORE-TEX kit did such an outstanding job protecting me.

“All of my kit remains intact which is quite unusual after almost 60 days.”

Making the attempt during the Antartic summer meant that Chirstmas Day was always going to be spent away from friends and family as she said: “Christmas Day away from my girlfriend and family was hard too, as was my Spotify needing rebooted after 30 days which obviously wasn’t possible!”

Chief executive of RSGS Mike Robinson added: “We’re delighted that Mollie will be speaking for the RSGS so soon after returning from her expedition.

“She joins a remarkable cast of ‘Adventure Greats’ who did the same after their heroic achievements, and it’s wonderful to be continuing this 150-year legacy today.

“Mollie visited our offices before heading off to Antarctica to seek inspiration, advice and approval for her expedition.

“She took with her one of our RSGS Explorers Flag, so we’re looking forward to seeing a picture of it flying proudly on Earth’s most southerly point.”

Talk takes place on Monday, February 3 at New Kings (NK6), University of Aberdeen at 7.30pm and tickets are £10 on the door.

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