Ice Maiden Zanna of RAF Henlow set for chilling challenge

Captain Zanna Baker. Photo by Corporal Jonathan Lee van Zyl / MoD Crown Copyright / British Army UNCLASSIFIED
Captain Zanna Baker. Photo by Corporal Jonathan Lee van Zyl / MoD Crown Copyright / British Army UNCLASSIFIED

A soldier from RAF Henlow will be part of the first all-female team to attempt to cross the Antarctic.

Captain Zanna Baker is part of The British Army expedition, Ice Maiden, which will set off on October 25 and see the team cross Antarctica via the South Pole.

Along with five other members of the Ice Maiden team, she will cover 1,700km, battling temperatures of -40 degrees and wind speeds of over 60mph. They aim to complete the journey in 75 days.

Zannar said: “Since I was 19 one of my goals in life has been to walk to the South Pole, I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to fulfil my dream and go even further than I had dreamt.

“Since joining the Army I have been pushed physically and mentally beyond what I thought I could do.

“Ice Maiden has given me another opportunity to realise what I am capable of and I hope that others will see that you don’t have to be an extraordinary person to do something extraordinary.

“I am really excited about going, I can not wait. We head out on October 25 and we are aiming to complete it in 75 days.”

The expedition, which was officially launched last Friday when HRH The Countess of Wessex visited the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, aims to inspire women to get active and get outdoors.

The expedition leaders, Major Nats Taylor and Major Nics Wetherill, both Army doctors, wanted as many women as possible to get involved, the only conditions were that they were serving in the Army, Regular or Reserve, and female.

Over 200 applicants were tested in the UK and in freezing conditions in Norway. Ten women were then selected for further training, with six making it through to the final selection to take part in the biggest adventure of their lives.

Zanna said: “It started two years ago and there has been a lot of training and a lot of different stages of training.

“We meet up once a month to train together and in our own time we have been dragging tyres.

“The training has been fantastic, it is going really well and we are continually testing our strength for the trek.”

To prepare themselves for the challenge the group have spent hours dragging tyres in order to stimulate the 80kg small sledges they will take with them across the ice.

Zanna added: “We have been preparing ourselves mentally and physically.

“I have had to put weight on, my diet has had to change to gain weight, so I have a storage of fat that can be burnt on the trek.

“I’m having more butter on my toast, more dairy products, more milkshakes, just trying to build up the fat.”