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British student, 21, wants to become the youngest person to walk solo to the South Pole

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Tom Warburton - Instagram @tom_warbs
Tom Warburton - Instagram @tom_warbs
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A 21-year-old student wants to become the youngest person to walk solo to the South Pole.

Tom Warburton, from the UK, is currently in training to trek the almost 700-mile (1,100km) distance from Hercules Inlet, on the coast of Antarctica, to the South Pole.

He plans to set off next November, and is estimating it will take him around 45 days to complete the expedition in temperatures that could reach lows of around -35°C (-31°F).

Euronews will be following Tom as he trains and gears up for the trip.

The current world record holder is Scott Sears — the brother-in-law of tennis star Andy Murray — who achieved the feat unsupported and unassisted on Christmas day in 2017 at 27 years old.

How big of a deal is this?

Big.

Fewer people have walked to the South Pole than they have set foot on the moon. Going solo isn't an easy feat — for a trip like this — and most explorers venture out with a team, tractors, dogs and food.

They also have fuel dropped when needed.

Meanwhile, the conditions are anything but friendly. From March to September, the sun is always below the horizon — and then, from September to March, it is constantly above it. This means there is a full 24 hours of sunlight in the summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter.

But Tom says he is ready for the challenge as he plans on eventually joining the army — a career path that requires a similar amount of discipline.

"You get up and walk 20 miles a day," he told Euronews.

For the student, the biggest worry isn't dying en route, it's creating a valuable weather map so he can track the meteorological features across the area he'll walk. The 21-year-old will also go on several mock expeditions to Norway and Iceland, which is where he'll be able to start mapping a route. But in Antarctica, it's a lot more problematic, as no one really lives there.

Over his current two years of training, Tom has managed to pick up some tricks along the way to prepare for the unknown. One of these: if he should feel the wind picking up, he will attach silk to his skis and track which direction the wind is blowing.

'Roughing it'

Tom was originally supposed to take on the challenge this month, but says he was forced to delay by a year after underestimating the amount of training and the importance of sponsors.

The trip will cost him an estimated £65,000 (€75,300) — but, at that price, it'll also mean "roughing it" as it could realistically cost a lot more. For example, he needs to think about all the small-ish extras such as calling costs between the UK and the South Pole reaching around £40-50 (€46-57) per minute.

Some providers can even charge around £200 (€230) a minute.

Speaking to Euronews, Tom said he intends on limiting the number of phone calls he'll be making as "in terms of loneliness, the worst thing is hearing my mum on the phone while I'm sat in the middle of nowhere."

He says he will instead bring other "creature comforts" along the way, such as his music and materials to help him top up on his French language skills.

The 21-year-old won't only be raising money for this trip — he will also begin collecting money for charities such as Help for Heroes and Great Ormond Street Hospital two months before he sets out on his journey.

He aims to raise around £120,000 (€139,000) in total.

In the middle of nowhere

Once he's out there in the estimated -35°C weather, how will he be able to do the basic things? Like brushing his teeth, or washing?

Apparently, a lot of people clean themselves with wet wipes, but he's not a fan. Since he will be skiing for about ten hours a day, he'll sweat a lot and it's therefore even more important to stay clean.

He says: "you can half a naked bath, so you can dig a hole and get in a bath. An ice-cold bath, jump in and then jump in your sleeping bag" to warm up again.

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