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 6 soldiers 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.”

Photographs of the team can be downloaded here.

The team left London Heathrow on the 25th October for Chile, where they conducted their final preparations before heading to Antarctica on Friday 3rd November.

They had originally hoped to cross the start line on Monday 6th November but due to poor weather conditions had to wait at the Union Glacier camp until it cleared. Blog posts of their time at the camp can be read on

Expedition leaders, Major Natalie Taylor and Major Nicola Wetherill, both Army doctors, wanted as many women as possible to get involved. Aiming to inspire women of all ages and abilities to get active, 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 6 making it through the final selection to take part in the biggest adventure of their lives.

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- 90 days and team will be on the ice for both Christmas and New Year.

At 1100 GMT on the 11th November, the quietest continent on earth observed two minutes of silence in memory of all those who have given their lives in the act of war. The sound of the last post heading out across the absolute silence on Union Glacier was particularly moving. In front of a cross made of skis, the team read from a Remembrance Service that had been prepared for them prior to their departure for Antarctica by Padre Catherine Gillham. Link to photo below.

Photographs (please credit ‘British Army’) of the team in Antarctica can be downloaded here.

Contained within the dropbox folder are:

  • Photos of the individual Ice Maidens
  • Photos sent from Antarctica are prefixed by ‘ANT’ – low res due to connectivity
  • Photos of the launch event (Sept 15th) with their patron, the Countess of Wessex
  • Videos of their training in Norway and the Alps
  • Rushes from their VO2 Max Testing at Coventry University
  • Rushes from their time in the Human Metabolism Research Unit chambers (HMRU)
  • Assorted training photographs

For further information please contact:

James Banks, Head of Media Relations, AECOM on 07384 251036

Colin Woodley, Army Media and Communications on 01264 382349.

To find out more visit

Twitter @exicemaiden and Facebook /exicemaiden.


  • Team of six women from the Regular Army and Army Reserve (more details below)
    • Major Nics Wetherill, Royal Army Medical Corps
    • Major Natalie Taylor, Royal Army Medical Corps
    • Major Sandy Hennis, Royal Signals
    • Captain Zanna Baker, Royal Artillery
    • Lieutenant Jenni Stephenson, Royal Artillery
    • Lance Sergeant Sophie Montagne, Honourable Artillery Company
  • Skiing 1,700km unsupported.
  • Expedition is expected to take between 75 and 90 days.
  • Pulks (sledges) will weigh up to 80kg each.
  • There will be two resupplies (one every 600km) where the team will collect food and drop off refuse. They will carry enough food for 30 days at a time.
  • The women are expected to consume between 4,000 and 6,000 calories per day.
  • The team depart the UK for Punta Arenas, Chile in October 2017. Fly to the Leverett Glacier on Antarctica in November, ski 1,700km via the South Pole to Hercules Inlet, returning
  • to the UK in February 2018.