PICTURED: Left to right- Baker, Wetherill, Montagne, Stephenson, Taylor, Hennis.
The British Army’s ‘Ice Maiden’ Expedition team have begun their historic journey across Antarctica, crossing the start line on the Ross Ice Shelf on Monday 20th November.
The team is made up of:
- Major Nics Wetherill, Royal Army Medical Corp
- Major Natalie Taylor, Royal Army Medical Corp
- Major Sandy Hennis, Royal Signals
- Captain Zanna Baker, Royal Artillery
- Lieutenant Jenni Stephenson, Royal Artillery
- Lance Sergeant Sophie Montagne, Honourable Artillery Company
They will now use muscle power alone to ski the 1700km, whilst pulling a sledge weighing up to 80kg, battling 60mph winds and temperatures as low as -40°C.
Lance Sergeant Sophie Montagne said:
“The weather was perfect and hovered at around -10C with a gentle headwind.
“We were dropped off on the Ross Ice Shelf and, after waving goodbye to the plane, we skied onto "solid land" to begin our epic traverse.”
The team left London Heathrow on October 25th for Chile, where they conducted their final preparations before heading to Antarctica on Friday, November 3rd.
They had originally hoped to cross the start line on Monday, November 6th, but were delayed due to poor weather conditions.
The Expedition leaders are army doctors Major Natalie Taylor and Major Nicola Wetherill, and they were keen to involve as many women as possible.
The only conditions for applicants were that they were serving in the Army, Regular or Reserve, and female.
Of the 250 women who applied, six made it through to the final selection.
In order to prepare themselves for this gruelling challenge, team members have over the last few months spent countless hours dragging tyres in order to simulate the 80kg pulks (sledges) they’ll take with them across the ice.
Lieutenant Jenni Stephenson said:
“I feel incredibly lucky to be part of a team of confident, aspirational and positive women.
“We’ve all sacrificed various parts of our lives to focus on the expedition but the most important part lies in its aim to inspire and encourage other people to find their own Antarctica.
“I hope we can go some way to achieving this.”
The expedition is expected to take between 75 and 90 days, and the team will be away from home for both Christmas and New Year.