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MSN Travel interviews Helen Skelton
Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton has just finished an 18-day trek battling snow storms, -48C temperatures, frostbite and bad food. The 28-year-old has also just set a new world record for the fastest 100km by kite ski. In total, she has covered 329 miles by kite ski, 103 by bike and 68 by cross-country ski.
You've kayaked down the Amazon and walked on a high-wire across Battersea Power Station - why the South pole?
It's just such a different place from what most people are used to, it seemed like the perfect year to do it because of Scott's centenary.
The South pole is a very harsh place - were you worried?
I was - the weather can just turn so quickly and it's such a brutal environment. We're still here and a big concern is frostbite - when we reached the South pole, we chatted to this guy and he got frostbite in both feet!
It only takes a few minutes to set in as I found out yesterday - I've now got frostbite on my face. The skin is slightly raised - it looks like a nettle sting, but I put a heat pad on it yesterday, and have been told to keep my face covered.
You used an ice bike, skis and kite skis - which was the most challenging?
Definitely the bike. No one has used a bike to get to the South Pole and I can see why. In places, the snow is so loose it's like sand.
There's no precipitation so the snow doesn't get that hard. We had to deflate the tyres just to move forward, but even cycling a few hundred metres leaves you short of breath.
You were the first to use an ice bike - what prompted that decision?
Simply that it hadn't been done before. We came to set a challenge, and it seemed like a fun thing to do. But, we hadn't tested it before and it isn't easy - we could've ended up with egg on our faces.
Ranulph Fiennes said he laughed when he heard you were going to use a bike for part of the journey...
Everybody laughed at the bike and said the whole idea was daft but it was something our Blue Peter audience could relate to - most of them ride bikes already! And when someone says you can't do something, it makes me more determined to go through with it.
Highs and lows?
My favourite high was during the first week, when we were just testing the bike and skis. There was no pressure, and it was clear and beautiful views stretched for miles. The lowest point was a few days before we were due to reach the pole, and my cough got really bad from breathing in all the cold air.
The medic said it was going to turn into pneumonia if I wasn't careful, and so I had to wear a face mask so that the air was a bit warmer when I breathed in. I looked like Darth Vader.
What were the biggest challenges?
We knew we needed to do 22 miles a day and on one day, we were pulling the bikes, which were 22kg of metal. It was taking a mile an hour. So that was a tough day because we didn't know how we could physically cover the ground.
And then there was expedition food - it's awful. Dehydrated food in a tinfoil pack, which you then have to mix with boiled snow. It's tough on the taste buds, tough on the stomach. I'm craving an apple - I haven't bitten into one since 22 December.
Without being too detailed, how on earth do you go to the loo?
You dig a hole and you have to be quick because it's so cold. You can go in the end of your tent but then you have to deal with the smell.
How scary is it when a snowstorm arrives - what did you have for shelter?
Your tent is your shelter. On Christmas Day and night, it was really intense. The visibility is scary because you can't see, and the wind is howling round. You're lying there, looking at your tent, thinking - please don't collapse, please don't collapse.
- 30 nights spent camping on the ice
- Over 50 rations of dehydrated food consumed
- At least 15 metres of medical tape used on Helen's feet
- One wash (with a sock and a bucket of water)
- One change of underwear
We leave on 31 January and we have to make our way back to the coast. The first thing I'd like to do is have a shower and eat some fruit.
Sponsor Helen or enter the Sport Relief Mile by visiting the website. Helen's Polar Challenge for Sport Relief will be shown in a special nine-week series on Blue Peter, Mondays at 16:30 on BBC1.