Page 8 - 2016 AMA Autumn
P. 8

Exercise Ice Maiden, the first all-female military transantarctic crossing planned for November 2017, is the brain child of expedition leaders Captain Nicola Wetherill and Major Natalie
Taylor. The two adventurous Army doctors hope that the expedition will inspire others, particularly women, to seek adventure and to engage in arduous outdoor activity. In addition, regardless of who achieves a place on the final team in 2017, the leaders hope that the selection and training process which the women will have been exposed to by that point will have equipped them to plan and lead their own expeditions in the future. Lastly, the Exercise Ice Maiden team members will be closely monitored and tracked during the expedition. It is envisaged that the data collected will provide a unique insight into the effects which fatigue, extreme cold and prolonged periods of arduous exercise have on the female body.
Such a demanding final expedition requires a thorough and lengthy selection and training procedure which began with the paper applications made by around 250 women in the summer of 2015 and will continue until the final team of four plus the expedition leaders depart for Chile in October 2017. As part of this process a team of twenty hopeful Army soldiers and officers, including seven Reservists, plus two expedition leaders travelled to northern Norway on Sunday 28 February 2016 for Exercise Ice Bambi, the first of three ten day training and selection exercises ahead of Exercise Ice Maiden itself.
The group stayed at the Allied Training Centre and enjoyed the hospitality warmly extended to them by both British and Norwegian forces. The aims of Exercise Ice Bambi were to introduce the beginners to Nordic ski touring and to consolidate any pre-existing
knowledge amongst the others, expose all candidates to a harsh environment, teach basic survival skills and educate the team in relation to the use and maintenance of appropriate clothing, kit and equipment.
The first five days were spent under the supervision of British forces personnel. The extremely experienced tutors, Dan and Ian, provided the team with detailed information and demonstrations on various aspects of cold weather survival, including
nutrition, tent routines, marching routine and the kit and equipment they use.
This period of classroom based tuition was followed by four days out in the field putting this new found knowledge into practise and sharpening these routines each day. After a morning of snow shoeing, the
group had some basic skiing tuition followed almost immediately by a night ski. The use of head torches was discouraged by the tutors as skiing ‘blind’ encourages the
skier to trust the ‘messages’ received by their feet. This approach was met with mixed reviews from the women initially but it was generally agreed that a vast amount was learnt by all during a relatively short period.

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