THERE was jubilation as a team of female soldiers crossed the finishing line of a brutal trek across the world’s coldest continent.
The six adventurers from the British Army’s Ice Maiden expedition finally completed their epic adventure across Antarctica on Saturday.
Led by Portsmouth-based army medic Major Nics Wetherill, the all-female team spent 62 days on the ice, battling freezing temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees.
Maj Wetherill said: ‘I’m just so incredibly proud of the team. I can’t believe how far we’ve come. This journey has had good times, bad times and great times for all concerned, and each of them, I know, has made us better people.’
Over the past two months the team has travelled up to 26 miles a day, navigating crevasse fields while pulling sledges weighing up to 80kg, burning between 4,000 and 6,000 calories a day.
As part of their training, the women learnt how to build snow igloos for shelter and completed the British Army’s winter survival course.
This journey has had good times, bad times and great times for all concerned, and each of them, I know, has made us better peopleMajor Nics Wetherill, Royal Army Medical Corps
Gavin Williamson, defence secretary, praised the team and said: ‘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.’
The trek began at the Ross Ice Shelf, with the team climbing the Transantarctic Mountains to reach the polar plateau.
After a re-supply at the South Pole they turned north-west towards Hercules Inlet.
Skiing 372 miles across uneven ground, they spent Christmas Day on the ice before reaching their final re-supply point at the base of the Thiel Mountains.
From there, Maj Wetherill descended to the Hercules Inlet.
She crossed the finish line with teammates Majors Nat Taylor and Sandy Hennis, Lieutenant Jenni Stephenson, Lance Sergeant Sophie Montagne and Captain Zanna Baker at 10am on Saturday.