Posted on February 3, 2018
A team of female soldiers is back in Britain after a record-breaking coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica.
The ‘Ice Maidens’ are the first all-female team to have made the crossing unsupported in temperatures as low as -40 degrees.
Families, friends and even pets welcomed the team at Heathrow airport after three months away.
Lieutenant Jenni Stephenson said that Antarctica is ‘the most remarkable place she’s ever been to’:
“I’ve never dreamt in my life I’d be skiing to the South Pole. That was really special for all of us.”
The epic expedition has been lead by Army doctors Major Natalie Taylor and Major Nicola Wetherill, who said:
“It was an idea that I had 10 years ago, but it’s been in the planning and running for the last four, since we started putting it together.
“It’s incredible that it’s… Over. But we’ve come such a long way and we’ve learnt so much.
“It’s just been such an incredible journey.”
In order to prepare themselves for the gruelling challenge, the Ice Maidens have spent countless hours dragging tyres in order to simulate the 80kg pulks (sledges) they took with them across the ice.
However, their journey was full of obstacles.
The women faced a setback at the start, when one of them developed flu. This forced the others to take on her load, including a sledge weighing 176 pounds.
But they pulled together to reach the South Pole, smashing their target of 75 days by completing it in just 61.
Starting on the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf on the 20th November 2017, the team climbed up the Transantarctic Mountains, via the Leverett Glacier, to reach the polar plateau.
After a re-supply at the South Pole, the team turned north-west towards Hercules Inlet.
Skiing 600km across uneven ground, spending Christmas Day on the ice before reaching their final re-supply point at the base of the Thiel Mountains.
From there, they descended to the Hercules Inlet and the finish line.
Some have described the mission as the ultimate opportunity to show that women have the all-strength required to operate in one of the world’s most hostile environments.
The challenge had only previously been completed in 2012 by one other woman, the explorer Felicity Aston.