The Antarctica Ice Maiden team have become the first all-female team to cross Antarctica. The six soldiers, who spent 62 days on the ice, crossed the finish line just before 10am on Saturday 20th January.
Over the last two months the team travelled up to 43 kilometres a day, navigating crevasse fields whilst pulling sledges weighing up to 80kg and battling temperatures as low as -40°C.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "I want to congratulate the heroic Ice Maidens on their formidable and trailblazing trek across Antarctica. They are an inspiration to us all and are role models to young people across the country. They truly demonstrate why the British Armed Forces are the best in the world, and show that with hard work, courage, and determination anything is possible. We are immensely proud of them and what they have achieved."
Redditch soldier Major Sandy Hennis said: “I’m very much looking forward to talking in schools about our journey and what you can achieve if you believe in yourself and are willing to try. I know crossing Antarctica won’t be at the top of many people’s lists but I hope we have encouraged someone to try something different.”
When Major Taylor and Major Wetherill came up with the idea for the expedition they wanted to inspire women of all ages and abilities. The only conditions for applicants were that they were serving in the Army, Regular or Reserve, and female. 250 applicants were tested to the limit both in the UK and in freezing conditions in Norway with six making it through the final selection to take part in the biggest adventure of their lives.
Major Nat Taylor said: “I have spent the last few days trying to imprint this beautiful landscape in my mind. We have called it home for close to two months now and I will, in a strange way, miss it a lot! The snow sparkles like there is a layer of pearls on the surface and everywhere you look there is beauty and stillness. The photos just don’t do it justice.”
The team will be flown to Union Glacier (Antarctica) before being travelling to Chile where their recovery will begin. They are due to return to the UK at the beginning of February.