An explorer who completed the first Scottish expedition to the
South Pole tonight spoke of his relief at being back in the UK.
Craig Mathieson hauled a 160lb sledge 730 miles during his gruelling
journey across Antarctica.
He finished the epic adventure in 56 days despite his partner dropping
The father-of-three from Bo’ness,
West Lothian, also had to fight through the pain barrier after
suffering a ripped knee
tendon 70 miles from the finish line.
Reunited with family
Mr Mathieson, 35, was tonight reunited with his wife, Michele,
and three children at Edinburgh Airport.
“It‘s a huge relief to be back,” he
“I spent a long time on the ice as
it is just over two months since I left.”
On the significance of his achievement,
the accountant said: “I
don‘t think it has sunk in yet.
“Once I get the chance to relax over
the next week or two I think it will hit me.
“I feel immensely proud to have completed
the first dedicated Scottish expedition to the South Pole.”
The temperatures were so extreme that he could only stop for five-minute
breaks at a time during the day for fear of frostbite.
And he said one of the most treacherous aspects of the trek was
negotiating crevasses covered with thin layers of snow.
Mr Mathieson walked for eight-and-a-half
hours a day and got by on seven hours’ sleep a night.
Looking to the future he said: “I
just want to have a long rest and spend time with my family.
“I have no other major expeditions
Wife and childrne at airport to meet returning
His wife Michele and three children, Layla, nine, Jake, six and
Ruari, 23 months, met him at the airport.
Mrs Mathieson said: “He looks really well and it‘s
just great to have him home.
“When someone you love is away like
that then it is very worrying.
“But I always knew he would do it.
“We are looking forward to having
a family party and some time to ourselves.”
Mr Mathieson left Glasgow in late October with a fellow accountant,
The intention had been for each to pull a 160lb two-metre sledge,
starting from Hercules Inlet in Antarctica.
Companion forced to return
But Ms Taylor, also 35, from Dunfermline in Fife, was forced to
return to base camp less than a fortnight into the expedition with
hypothermia and frostbite.
She had been forced to wrap her hands in thick bandages in an attempt
to stave off severe frostbite in the worst weather seen in the region
Mr Mathieson pressed on alone, with the
intention of reaching the Pole on New Year’s Day.
But organisers of the Scot 100 expedition confirmed he reached
his destination on December 28.
Throughout the trek, Mr Mathieson had to
endure the harshest weather conditions for 15 years, with temperatures
as low as –53C.
A spokesman for the organisers said he pulled
a sleigh weighing 160lbs and burnt 6,000-8,000 calories per day – the
equivalent of running a daily marathon.
Fiona Taylor is said to be recovering well
and is working with the project team to raise as much money as
possible for its chosen
charities – Cancer Research UK Scotland, ChildLine Scotland,
MS Society Scotland and the Scottish Huntington’s Association.
A Scottish First in Centenary year
The expedition has been recognised as a Scottish first by the Royal
Scottish Geographical Society, as it was the first time a Scottish
team had man-hauled sledges to the South Pole.
It coincides with centenary celebrations for the achievements of
William Speirs Bruce during the voyage of the Scotia in 1904.
The purpose of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition of 1904
was scientific, and not to reach the Pole itself.