Scot becomes youngest Brit to trek South Pole

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Adventurer Luke Robertson has become the first Scot and youngest Brit to trek solo across the South Pole.

Robertson completed his unassisted and unsupported expedition to the South Pole this morning following a gruelling 39-day ski across 730 miles of ice and snow in Antarctica.

His amazing has drawn support from people around the world as well as legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and cyclist and adventurer Mark Beaumont.

Sir Ranulph said it was an “incerdible” achievement.

Robertson reached the South Pole at 02.30 (GMT) after spending 39 days alone dragging 130kg (20 stone) equipment across 730 miles of ice and snow, dealing with some of the harshest conditions on earth in temperatures plummeting below minus 50C, while battling up to 100mph winds to complete his epic challenge.

His emotionally and physically exhausting journey was in aid of the charity Marie Curie as the 30-year-old has experienced more than his fair share of health problems in his relatively young life.

He had to have a pacemaker fitted in his early twenties due to heart problems and just a year before his Due South adventure he underwent surgery to remove a suspected brain tumour, which turned out to be an extremely large and rare cyst.

During his record-breaking trek, Luke travelled across hard and unforgiving windswept icy snow ridges, climbed to 2800m (twice the height of Ben Nevis), battled through fresh snow dumps and white-out conditions and burned around 400,000 calories on his journey towards the pole.

He also had to contend with essential equipment failure, relying on an emergency battery supply to communicate with the outside world.

Speaking at the South Pole Robertson said: “What an unbelievable and surreal feeling. I feel on top of the bottom of the world!

“All those months of training and preparation have really paid off, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of so many people who have helped to make this expedition a success. In particular, my fiancée Hazel, my parents, family, friends and colleagues for their unwavering support.

“The team at ANI for logistics and communications support before and during this expedition, and the thousands of people from around the world who have been following my progress and sending messages of encouragement along the way.

“Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to Marie Curie; they are an incredible charity, very close to my heart, and I feel so proud to be representing them on this expedition.

“I hope this shows that you really can overcome challenges to achieve your dreams, whatever they may be. It’s amazing to repay the faith put in me by all my supporters. Now, I think it’s time for a big feed, a wee dram and a shower.”

Robertson, who works as a trader for Edinburgh-based financial firm Franklin Templeton as his day job, wanted to undertake the epic challenge across the world’s coldest and windiest continent as a way of inspiring others to overcome mental and physical challenges.

He decided to donate the money raised from the trek to Marie Curie after witnessing first-hand the work of Marie Curie nurses. The money will help Marie Curie to care for people living with terminal illness and their families.

Luke has surpassed his original fundraising target and has set his sights on raising £100,000 for Marie Curie. He has already raised over £45,000 and hopes his achievement will encourage more people to donate ahead of the Great Daffodil Appeal, which is Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign in March.

On hearing the record-breaking news, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes said: “I am delighted that Luke has reached the South Pole and becomes the youngest Brit ever to do so, unaided. It is an incredible achievement and I hope that his adventure inspires others to achieve their own goals in life and to raise funds for Marie Curie – a charity also close to my heart.”

Dr Jane Collins, chief executive of Marie Curie, said: “We’d like to say a huge congratulations and thank you to Luke Robertson.

“His record-breaking solo adventure to the South Pole for Marie Curie shows that through sheer determination anything is possible. We are immensely grateful to everyone who has got behind Luke as he completed his challenge of a lifetime for people living with a terminal illness.”

The Saltire Foundation, the Mountaineering Council for Scotland and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society also lent their support for Robertson.

People can still send Robertson messages of support and make donations to Marie Curie by visiting www.justgiving.com/duesouth2015/.

To follow his story, go to www.facebook.com/duesouth2015 or www.twitter.com/duesouth2015.