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UK soldiers celebrate record-breaking Antarctica trip

Team of 'ice maidens' are first all-female group to cross continent using muscle power alone.

The Ice Maidens team made history on their Antarctica journey.
The Ice Maidens team made history on their Antarctica journey. ITV News

The army's 'Ice maidens' team were given a heroes welcome as they arrived home from a record-breaking journey across Antarctica.

Members of the six-strong team became the first all-female group to cross the continent using muscle power alone.

Covering 1,700km in just 61 days, they travelled up to 45 kilometres a day whilst pulling sledges holding their supplies and battling temperatures as low as -56°C.

They were greeted by family members - and pets - and they arrived back on UK soil at Heathrow airport today.

One of the soldiers is given an enthusiastic welcome home by her dog.
One of the soldiers is given an enthusiastic welcome home by her dog. ITV News

The team faced challenged from the outset, as they battled the elements and struggled to cross rough terrain and deep crevasses while pulling their sledges.

Major Sandy Hennis also struggled with illness, with other members of the team helping to carry her kit while she recovered as they banded together.

She said that her physical condition had also impacted her spirits, saying: "I started to spiral a little bit down as the demons told me I wasn't good enough.

"But thankfully this amazing group of girls around me here were able to just sort of mentally and physically put their arms around me."

The six-strong team hope they have inspired other women to push themselves.
The six-strong team hope they have inspired other women to push themselves. ITV News

Despite the challenged, they said it was all worth it to become among an elite group to have reached the South Pole.

Captain Zanna Baker said: "We got to the pole and it was just a really magical moment, where we all reacted completely differently but it was just incredibly special."

The trip's captain, major Nics Wetherill, said she hopes their historic achievement will encourage other women and girls to take on physical challenge and stretch themselves.

They face harsh conditions during their two-month journey.
They face harsh conditions during their two-month journey. ITV News

Members of the team agree that 100 years after the suffragettes won the right to vote, women can achieve anything they put their mind to.

"I think probably as gender we tend to undersell ourselves," said Lance Sergeant Sophie Montagne.

"If there's something you really want to do and you fully commit, the sky's your limit."

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