University expertise underpinned South Pole mission

Determination and positivity drove Mollie’s success

Date posted

10 January 2020

14:25

The University academic who helped prepare Edinburgh-based adventurer Mollie Hughes for her epic expedition to the South Pole today saluted her success.

Scott Graham, an exercise physiologist at Edinburgh Napier, worked extensively with Mollie over a nine-month period before she set off on her 702-mile trek in Antarctica on November 14 last year.

Scott Graham and Mollie Hughes at Sighthill campus

Scott, who has years of experience of working in Desert, Jungle and Arctic regions, is an expert in the physiology and psychology of achieving peak performance in extreme environments.

In the course of dozens of sessions with Mollie, they undertook activities aimed at preparing her for the solitude, physical exhaustion, mental fatigue and biting cold she would face in the course of her long-distance ski to the southernmost point on Earth. Mollie had to be ready to withstand temperatures of minus 500C while dragging a 90kg sled across obstacles like crevasse fields in powerful Polar winds.

Scott also advised her on nutrition - key to the success of the mission as her varied diet of high-fat and protein meals needed to sustain her throughout her energy-sapping challenge during which she burned between 6000 and 9000 calories a day.

Scott also coached Mollie on dealing with any medical issues which might arise. It was essential that she could self-treat minor injuries, so that soft tissue wounds such as abrasions did not jeopardise the success of the challenge.

The academic, from Edinburgh Napier’s School of Applied Sciences, monitored her progress with pride as she reached the half-way point in mid-December before going on to complete her mammoth journey just days into the New Year. She becomes the youngest female to complete a solo supported ski from the coast to the South Pole.

Scott said: “I am thrilled to hear that Mollie has made it to the South Pole. Her determination to achieve her aim shone through in the course of her training, and it was coupled with a very cheerful, positive outlook.

“It is great to see a young person take the initiative, find the sponsors and have the drive and strength of character to see through such a remarkable feat of endurance.

“This was a very ambitious undertaking, and it sets a wonderful example to others of what can be achieved when you get out of your comfort zone and push yourself beyond your previous experiences.”

School of Applied Sciences

From career guidance to sports performance, biomedical science to ecotourism, research into human life, human behaviour and our understanding of the environment is at the centre of the School of Applied Sciences.