A 29-year-old woman who is attempting to become the youngest woman to ski alone to the South Pole is to receive a surprise Christmas dinner today.
At more than half way to the South Pole, Devon-born mountaineer Mollie Hughes, who lives in Edinburgh, hopes to cross her 400 nautical mile mark and expects to pick out a freeze-dried spaghetti bolognese for her festive dinner.
However unknown to Ms Hughes, who became the youngest person to have successfully climbed both the north and south sides of Mount Everest in 2017, she will instead be greeted with a Christmas feast.
Ms Hughes, who will have been out on the South Pole for 43 days on Christmas Day, said: ‘I will be between 86 degrees south and 87 degrees south on Christmas Day. I hope to cross my 400 nautical mile mark, two thirds of the way to the South Pole.
Mollie Hughes (pictured at Edinburgh Airport after becoming the world’s youngest woman to climb Mount Everest from both sides in 2017), 29, who lives in Edinburgh, is attempting to become the youngest woman to ski alone to the South Pole
The adventurer (training for her South Pole mission earlier this year) will have been out on the South Pole for 43 days on Christmas Day
‘I am going to pick out my fave freeze-dried meal for the day, probably spaghetti bolognese, while I will be dreaming of turkey and roast potatoes.
‘I have a few cards to open from my family and a small present from my girlfriend. I told her it has to be edible, so fingers crossed for chocolate.’
However logistics company ALE have hidden secret gifts in her food stores, meaning she can now feast on pad thai, chocolate cake, fresh bread rolls, grapes, kiwi and nectarine for Christmas dinner
In addition to the hidden gifts, girlfriend Tegan has also sent Ms Hughes’ favourite sweets Revels and her go-to treat of chocolate covered pretzels.
A bar of honeycomb chocolate with a picture of Edinburgh on the front also lies in store for Ms Hughes when she reaches her destination today.
Describing her Christmas plans, Ms Hughes said: ‘I think I might give myself a small lie in on Christmas Day … maybe start skiing a couple of hours later. Treat myself!
In 2012, Ms Hughes summited Mount Everest from the South side via Nepal (pictured). She then returned in 2017 and successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest from the North side
Pictured: Ms Hughes (left) reaching the summit of Mount Everest from the north side in 2017
‘I will spend it skiing and pulling my very heavy sled, which I have called Boudicca.
‘I have a sat-phone so I will ring my family and my girlfriend on the day to wish them a Merry Christmas. I think that will be the highlight of my day.’
Depending on windchill, she could face temperatures of as low as minus 45C.
She added: ‘On Christmas Day I will have been out here for 43 days and not seen another human (or living organism) since the start, but surprisingly I am feeling okay.
‘The end is in sight. Physically I am still feeling good, tired, but nothing is wrong with me. Mentally I am turning my attention to the last third of this trip and thoughts of home in a few weeks often enter my mind.’
Ms Hughes, who became the youngest person to have successfully climbed both the north and south sides of Mount Everest in 2017, endured brutal conditions at the start of her latest challenge.
The mountaineer (holding a Blue Peter badge on the summit of Mount Everest) expects to eat a freeze-dried spaghetti bolognese for her Christmas dinner but she will instead be greeted with a surprise feast
After leaving from Hercules Inlet in Western Antarctica for the 702-mile trek she entered complete whiteout conditions for eight days, which she described as ‘like being inside a ping pong ball’.
With no visibility, she had to navigate by compass through 30 knot winds, which dropped temperatures to minus 40C.
Severe windstorms gusting up to 50 knots with minus 45C windchill left her confined for her tent for stretches, causing further delays, and requiring a food drop to be organised to ensure she does not run out of supplies.
This support means she can no longer attempt to claim the title of being the youngest person to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole, but is still on track to claim the first half of the record and expects to reach her destination in early January.
Vilborg Gissuradottir, from Iceland, is thought to hold the current women’s record for skiing solo to the South Pole with support, arriving in January 2013 aged 32.
Ms Hughes (pictured on Mount Everest in 2017) had to navigate by compass through 30 knot winds for her latest challenge