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Mountain Equipment

22nd January 2018

Ice Maidens Become First All-Female Team To Cross Antarctica

After battling wind speeds of 60mph and temperatures as low as -40C, six women from the British Army, the Ice Maidens, have become the largest all-female group to ski across Antarctica.

The 1056-mile journey took the six-strong team a total of 62 days, having crossed the finish line at the Hercules Inlet early Saturday morning. The expedition was expected to take between 75 and 90 days.

Travelling up to 27 miles a day, each member of the team had to navigate crevasse fields whilst pulling sledges that weighed up to 80kg.

Major Nics Wetherill and Major Nat Taylor, both Royal Army Medical Corps, came up with the idea in order to inspire women of all ages and abilities to push themselves in challenging conditions.

The expedition follows the same route as Felicity Aston took in 2012.

Over 250 applicants came forward to be part of the expedition and were put through rigorous tests both in the UK and in Norway, until they were whittled down to the final six.

Expedition Kit

Understanding that the team would face extreme conditions, and having worked previously with fellow polar explorer, Ben Saunders, on his record-breaking Scott Expedition, Mountain Equipment equipped the Ice Maidens with custom versions of the Polar Expedition Jacket and Salopette, which were originally developed for Saunders.

Polar Expedition Jacket

“Polar gear is famous for its lack of innovation and there was a significant opportunity to use modern fabrics, construction and design to produce something much better and more functional than what’s currently available.” – Sam Stephenson, Head of Design and Development

The expedition also aimed to conduct pioneering medical research to examine how the female body copes with extreme endurance in polar environments. Such results may have far-reaching applications in the future for polar-specific expedition kit.


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