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How the Ice Maidens conquered Antarctica

Our first keynote address of the school year by Sophie Montagne - one of six intrepid Ice Maidens - presented the irrefutable truth that women have the mental and physical endurance to operate in the most hostile environment on earth.

A Lance Sergeant in the Honourable Artillery Company, Sophie recounted the record-breaking 1,700km trek she and her fellow female adventurers undertook over the uninhabited Antarctic landscape for 61 days earlier this year.

The six women became the first all-female team to do so using muscle power alone, battling temperatures of -50°C and wind speeds of over 60mph. 

Following in the footsteps of Felicity Aston’s solo Antarctic crossing in 2012, all were either British Army or Army Reservists, described by Sophie as "ordinary women".

They were selected from 250 applicants, and underwent rigorous training in order to survive and succeed in the "coldest, highest, driest continent on earth".

Sophie explained that each day involved around 10 hours on the move, the women tethered in a line and unable to communicate verbally. They listened to podcasts and music to occupy themselves and while physical strength was needed, mental capability was of greater importance.

The aim of the expedition was to promote female leadership and inspire more women to embrace major challenges.

It was also to collect vital data into how the female body copes in extreme environments. At the end they were interviewed by a NASA scientist who, among other things, was keen to know what they felt was the main benefit of having taken part.

Sophie said: “We all gave the same answer – the huge sense of belonging, of knowing each other so well that we completely trusted our lives in each other’s’ hands. It was an amazing feeling that I will never forget.”

The talk was one of a number of events and concerts taking place at Redmaids' High which are open to members of the immediate school community and to the general public. Further information is available on our Special events page.

Date Posted: 23 September 2018
Extra-Curricular Infant/Junior Senior Sixth Form The World Beyond

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