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Student, 20, plans youngest solo South Pole trek

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Tom Warburton has been camping on glaciers and drinking peanut butter milkshakes to prepare for the challenge.

South Pole challenger Tom Warburton

A 20-year-old student plans to be the youngest person to complete a solo trek to the South Pole.

Tom Warburton from Bedford said his long-held ambition crystallised after some planning in the pub – inspired by tennis star Andy Murray’s brother-in-law – and he will now take on the challenge in November.

His training regime involves glacier camping, practising putting up a tent while it is clipped to him, downing litres of peanut butter milkshake daily and dragging around tyres to simulate a sledge carrying his supplies.

Tom Warburton
Tom Warburton has been camping solo on Norwegian glaciers to prepare (Tom Warburton/PA)

Travelling on foot and by skis, with no support or assistance, in temperatures of around minus 15 C, he plans to cover more than 685 miles from the Hercules inlet on the Antarctic coast to the South Pole.

The journey is expected to take around 45 days.

In 2017, Lieutenant Scott Sears, brother of Andy Murray’s wife Kim, then aged 27, broke the record by two years.

Nottingham University student Mr Warburton said this inspired him to take on the challenge.

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He said: “I always wanted to do it and after Scott Sears had completed it I thought ‘I could do that’.

“There was a bit of planning in the pub, talking about whether it would be possible and it’s gone from there really.

“I’ve always been fascinated by feats of endurance and pushing yourself to the limits in modern society.

“The Antarctic is the last place where the only thing you can rely on is yourself.”

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Scott Sears’ solo South Pole challenge
Lieutenant Scott Sears completed the challenge aged 27 in 2017 (Shackleton/PA)

Lieutenant Sears was followed by French adventurer Matthieu Tordeur, also 27, but Mr Warburton would beat this again by around six years.

For months, he has been undergoing a gruelling training regime to get ready for the expedition.

“I’ve been dragging tyres around Nottingham because it kind of reflects pulling a sledge,” he said.

“I need to put on about two and a bit stone to get ready for the amount of weight I’ll lose, so I’ve been eating a lot of carbs.

“I drink about four peanut butter milkshakes a day and have four or five meals of pasta and chicken.”

Mr Warburton, who studies International Security and Terrorism, has also visited Norway on training trips.

He spent six days solo camping on ice in January to test equipment and temperatures.

He said: “It was colder than I expected and I struggled to sleep quite a lot because of the cold temperatures and the wind.

“My body temperature was melting the snow underneath me and I was waking up covered in water.

“On the second day I didn’t get enough fuel into my stove and so I didn’t have any hot water and had to eat cold rations.”

During the expedition, his only contact will be calls via a satellite phone every two or three days.

“My biggest concern is losing my tent or my tent being damaged. If that happens it’s game over really,” he said.

“I’ve been practising putting up my tent while it’s still clipped to me because of the wind.”

Despite the “daunting” nature of the training, Mr Warburton believes it will stand him in good stead for the challenge and expects to reach the South Pole around New Year’s Day.

“Hopefully I’ll reach there in one piece, get nice, warm accommodation and then fly back,” he said.

He plans to raise £32,000 for charities Great Ormond Street Hospital, Help for Heroes and Hire a Hero, which helps veterans return to civilian life.

He also hopes to raise around £20,000 for expedition and is enabling supporters to buy a mile of the journey through a crowdfunder https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tom-warburtoncrowdfund

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