Derbyshire student Bryony Balen to head for South Pole

image captionMs Balen studies geography at the University of Newcastle

A Derbyshire student is bidding to become the youngest Briton ever to ski to the South Pole.

Twenty-year-old Bryony Balen, from Melbourne, is spending a gap year preparing for the venture, which will start in December.

The epic journey will see Ms Balen ski across 700 miles (1,100 km) of snow and ice while enduring temperatures as low as -40C.

She hopes to beat the existing record set by 23-year-old Andrew Cooney.

The Newcastle University geography student, who will be taking a year off from her studies, said she was inspired to take up the challenge after attending a lecture by Mr Cooney.

Weight loss

The journey will involve Ms Balen and her team skiing from the edge of the Antarctic landmass at the Hercules Inlet to the South Pole.

Before setting off she has to gain 3st (19kg) as she is likely to lose a lot of weight during the trip.

"The first stone or so was quite easy but it's slowing down now," she said.

"It's the volume you eat plus you're trying to make sure it's healthy weight and not just takeaways every night."

Ms Balen had her first taste of mountaineering at school when she helped to organise and complete an expedition to the summit of Mont Blanc in the Alps.

Last summer she climbed Mount Elbrus in Russia, Europe's highest mountain, but the South Pole adventure presents a much bigger challenge.

She said: "I know it's going to be tough. It's going to be eight hours of skiing a day for 63 days.

"And that's only if the weather is good, everyone is fit and all our equipment works."

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