The global infrastructure services company AECOM was the headline sponsor of the first all-female team to cross Antarctica using muscle power alone. The British Army’s ‘Ice Maidens’ spent 62 days on the ice and crossed the finish line at the Hercules Inlet on Saturday, the 20th of January. They had travelled up to 43 kilometres a day, navigating crevasse fields whilst pulling sledges weighing up to 80 kg and battling temperatures as low as -40oC.
AECOM was honoured to become the headline sponsor of the expedition, previously being involved in some of the highest profile engineering projects: 2012 London Olympic Park, The Shard, Crossrail, and HS2.
Lara Poloni, Chief Executive of Europe, Middle East, India & Africa, AECOM, commented on the achievement saying: “On behalf of everyone here at AECOM I want send huge congratulations to the Ice Maidens team on completing their incredible adventure across Antarctica. Your dedication, hard work and team spirit are an inspiration to us all here at AECOM and we’re incredibly proud to have been able to support you. Safe journey home and I look forward to congratulating you all in person soon.”
Major Taylor and Major Wetherill led the six soldiers and hoped that with this expedition they have inspired women of all ages and abilities. When recruiting, the only conditions for applicants were that they were serving in the Army, Regular and Reserve, and female. There were 250 applicants and all of them got tested to the limit both in the UK and in freezing conditions in Norway, with six making it to the final selection.
“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,” said Major Sandy Hennis.
The team started the adventure on the 20th of November at the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf and climbed up the Transantarctic Mountains, via the Leverett Glacier, until they reached the polar plateau. After a re-supply at the South Pole, the women skied 600 km across uneven ground, spent Christmas Day on the ice, and reached their final re-supply pony at the base of the Thiel Mountains. From there, they headed towards the Hercules Inlet and the finish line.