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Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Monday, 6 December 2010
Newcastle student could be youngest to reach South Pole
Bryony Balen
Bryony has already climbed Mont Blanc and Mount Elbrus

A Newcastle University student is training for the most challenging expedition of her life.

Bryony Balen is aiming to become the youngest Briton to ski from the edge of the Antarctic landmass at the Hercules Inlet to the South Pole.

She will have to ski across 1,100km of ice in freezing temperatures, pulling a sledge weighing between 60-70kg.

But she is determined to take over the title currently held by 23-year-old Andrew Cooney.

'Too hard for women'

After meeting Andrew, Bryony became even more determined to take his title.

She said: "He basically said it's too hard for women so don't try, and that was like a red rag to a bull."

The 19-year-old geography student has now started a gruelling training regime to ensure she is at peak fitness by the time the expedition leaves in a year's time.

She said: "I just started thinking 'it's there, why not go for it?'

Bryony Balen
Bryony will leave for the South Pole in December 2011

"I had a pact a few years ago with a climbing partner that he would go to the North Pole and I would head to the South and then I would guide him to the South Pole afterwards.

"It's that mad kind of idea you have while hiking at 4am to keep you going but in this case, the thought didn't go away."

Keeping up energy

She now has a special intensive fitness programme and diet created by her home gym in Derbyshire, as well as cycling to University every day and becoming a member of the rowing club.

During the expedition it is likely that Bryony will lose around two stone in weight. In preparation for this she will have to carefully put on three stone which includes one stone of muscle.

She said: "I'm finding this one of the hardest aspects. I have a 1kg bag of high energy snacks on me all the time, but it's going to be really difficult."

While on the expedition, she will need to consume about 5,500 calories a day to cope with the demands of the trek.

She will travel by cross-country skiing whilst pulling a heavy sledge containing all the food, fuel, clothing and other equipment needed for the 60+ day trek.

Bryony Balen
Bryony Balen studies at Newcastle University


She had her first taste of mountaineering at school when she helped to organise and complete an expedition to the summit of Mont Blanc in the Alps.

Last summer she climbed Mount Elbrus in Russia, the highest mountain in Europe.

Bryony has saved £5,000 towards the trip but is now looking to raise £46,000 in commercial sponsorship to cover the remaining expedition costs, which mainly consist of the flight to the Antarctic.

Any donations above her target or from individual sponsors will go to charity. To sponsor Bryony, visit her website.




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