Local girl Sophie Montagne from Northiam, and a lance sergeant in the HAC (Honourable Artillery Company) has returned from a trip that saw her ski across Antarctica via the South Pole.
Along with five other women – all six currently serving in the regular or reserve army, she set out last November in an attempt to cross Antarctica unaided by any mechanical assistance, just using muscle power alone.
Starting on the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf on November 20 2017, the team climbed up the Transantarctic Mountains, via the Leverett Glacier, to reach the polar plateau.
After a re-supply at the South Pole, the team turned north-west towards Hercules Inlet.
Skiing 600km across uneven ground, spending Christmas Day on the ice before reaching their final re-supply point at the base of the Thiel Mountains.
From there, they descended to the Hercules Inlet and the finish line having covered 1,700 kilometres. With just the two supply points, everything they needed had to be carried with them and was packed onto sledges, known as pulks, towed by every member of the team and weighing nearly 80 kilos each and in temperatures of -40c.
When they reached the South Pole, Lance Sergeant Sophie Montagne (33) said: “It was the middle of the night when we arrived and there was not a soul to be seen. This really added to the poignancy of the moment as the Pole was ours alone – cue a flood of tears from almost every team member.
“As we stepped forward and touched the famous silver globe, a lifelong dream of mine had just been realised. It’s not often you get to say that.”
A total of 75 days had been allowed for the journey but they crossed the finish line in just 61.
Source: Expedition Ice Maiden
Main photo: Hugh Robertson