Exercise Ice Maiden: First All-Female Army Team Prepares To Cross Antarctica

 For the first time, an all-female team will attempt to ski coast-to-coast across Antarctica, passing through the South Pole.

The Ice Maiden's will cover 1,700km, pulling sledges loaded with their kit and supplies, all while battling temperatures of -50°C.

The challenge they are attempting has only previously been completed by one other woman, the explorer Felicity Aston in 2012.  

All of the Ice Maidens are serving in the British Army or Army Reserve and have spent the last two years preparing for this epic journey.


Like Felicity Aston, the Maidens will rely on just two resupply points along the route, which runs from the Leverett Glacier to the Hercules Inlet via the South Pole.

Weather permitting, it should take 75 days to complete.

For Ice Maiden, Maj Sandy Hennis, the trip sends an important message:

"It's not so much about being the first female team. It's just saying to everybody, and women across the world, that we can do this and should just get out there and push themselves."

Ice Maiden Sandhurst launch

At the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, their expedition was officially launched. 

The countdown is now on to November when they set off to face some of the most extreme weather conditions on earth.

It will be a gruelling slog across the snow and ice, with all the hazards that could throw at them.

Each day will be long, and the distances and timings have been carefully calculated, according to Capt Zanna Baker:

"We will be pulling for up to 10 hours a day. That's nine stints of one hour of skiing, in between, we'll have five minutes of break, in which we will have to do everything." 

The Countess of Wessex is the expedition’s patron and joined them for the launch, saying:

"It's hugely exciting and hopefully, every time we see brave women like this doing something interesting and different. It is going to encourage other people to get inspired and to do something themselves"

Selection for the epic trip began two years ago and saw 200 servicewomen sign up.

In less than two months’ time, this elite six will set off on the adventure of a lifetime, following in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest explorers, to reach the South Pole and beyond.

Picture Credit: Antarctica Ice Maiden

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