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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 17:33 GMT
South Pole success for Scots team
Craig Mathieson and Fiona Taylor
Craig Mathieson and Fiona Taylor set off on their expedition last month
Accountant-turned-adventurer Craig Mathieson has spoken of his delight after the first Scottish expedition to the South Pole ended in success.

The 35-year-old, from Bo'ness in West Lothian, completed the 730-mile Antarctic expedition three days early.

He made most of the trek alone after his companion Fiona Taylor, 35, was forced to pull out with frostbite.

"It feels absolutely fantastic. It truly is a dream come true for me," Mr Mathieson told BBC Scotland.

"I first wanted to go to the South Pole when I was 12. I'm 35 now, so it has taken a wee while, but it has been worth it.

"It is absolutely excellent. I am still on a major high."

Mr Mathieson was speaking from a tent at the South Pole, which he reached late on Tuesday night after 58 days on the ice.

Once I knew we were going to make it it felt absolutely brilliant and all the pain disappeared
Craig Mathieson
He had to endure harsh weather conditions during the expedition, with temperatures dropping as low as -53C at one point.

He and his accountant colleague were each pulling a sleigh weighing 150lbs when they set out on 3 November from Hercules Inlet, Antarctica.

However, Ms Taylor, from Dunfermline, was forced to return to base only a few days into the journey.

"It was just one of those unlucky starts, where Fiona got four of her fingers frostbitten and there was no way she could continue.

"She had to leave at that point, but I decided just to keep going," explained Mr Mathieson.

'Tiny black dot'

He said he never doubted that he would complete the journey.

"There were some points where my knee was giving me a lot of jip and I thought it was going to be a bit harder," he said.

"But once I saw the South Pole station, as just a tiny black dot, and I knew we were going to make it it felt absolutely brilliant and all the pain disappeared."

Antarctic
The trek to the South Pole covered 730 miles
The Scot 100 expedition has been recognised by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society as the first by a dedicated Scottish team.

Ms Taylor was said to be recovering well and has been working with the project team to raise money for its chosen charities - Cancer Research UK Scotland, ChildLine Scotland, MS Society Scotland and the Scottish Huntington's Association.

Mr Mathieson said he was just the "arrow head" of a huge operation, with his wife Michele among those helping to raise funds for charity.

Now that he has competed the challenge, he said he was looking forward to getting home to his wife and three children.

He was also relishing the prospect of food, with steak and potatoes top of his list.

Long journey

Mrs Mathieson said she had been relieved when her husband phoned to let her know that he had completed the trek.

"I'm really proud of him for what he has done," she said.

"He was hugely relieved and glad to be there, really pleased that after a very long journey he'd achieved what he set out to do."

She said that in the final leg he was one of a party of five, along with a guide and three others who were all on their own expeditions.



SEE ALSO:
Scots duo to take on South Pole
04 Sep 04 |  Scotland
Hogmanay hope for polar explorers
30 Jan 04 |  Scotland


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