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Antarctic Fire Angels - Ski Unsupported to the South Pole
Expedition Foods (EF): Who are the Antarctic Fire Angels? How did your group form?

Arctic Fire Angels (AFA): We are a team of 5 female firefighters from London, Wales and Derbyshire who will be skiing to the South Pole in 2023 to show what women are capable of. Our team started in 2019 when George was inspired by the 'Ice Maidens' - a team of Army women who had done a similar expedition. We have been planning and preparing for it ever since!

Polar Explorers

EF: Tell us a bit about the expedition: Where do you aim to go? How far is it? 

AFA: We will be starting from the Hercules Inlet and skiing 1,130km to the South Pole which will hopefully take us around 55 days weather depending! The route is a gradual climb to the Pole and we'll have to deal with things like sastrugi as well as winds of up to 60mph and temperatures as low as -50°c.

EF: How long will the expedition take?

AFA: The route we have chosen will hopefully take us around 55 days which is roughly 21km a day. However if we have good weather it's likely we will choose to cover more ground, but if we encounter a storm we could be tent bound for days which would slow progress. So 55 days is an estimate!

Pulks in a row

EF: Will you take all of your supplies with you? What will you need?

AFA: We will be dragging supply sleds called pulks behind us and each Angel will have around 80kg to drag. This includes enough food and fuel to cover the distance, plus equipment and spares such as tent, sleeping bags, repair kits, clothing, cooking equipment, skis, communications equipment, medication and toiletries etc!

EF: How much food will you take and what will you eat on a daily basis during the expedition?

AFA: We will have to consume around 5-6000 calories daily to support our efforts which will involve a porridge breakfast, calorific drinks such as hot chocolate and recovery drinks, snacks such as cheese and chocolate through the day, and then freeze dried dinners in the evening - my favourite is the Expedition Foods Thai Green Chicken Curry - yummy! We're trying to keep the weight of our food to 1kg a day - so each Angel will have around 60kg in food alone to begin with!

Dinner time

EF: How do you train for such a huge expedition?

AFA: We have been training for a couple of years already, which in the UK involves dragging tyres around the countryside, and building our strength in the gym, whilst winter season we visit Sweden and Norway for mini expeditions which involve us skiing all day with our pulks and practicing tent routines overnight. 

EF: You're now well into your training programme, what have you enjoyed the most so far?

AFA: I think we've most enjoyed the mini-expeditions in Sweden and Norway which are our chance to put all our skills together and operate as a team. They give us a small glimpse into what life on the ice will look like for us and we all get rather excited about the main event!

Group selfie snow

EF: What have you found the most challenging?

AFA: Finding the financial support is by far the most challenging thing - especially during covid! The new skills we have had to develop in order to find corporate sponsorship are not qualities you find in your average firefighter! But we're now website designers, content creators and public speakers amongst other things in order to bring this expedition to life.

EF: What will the final year of training entail?

AFA: We have a trip to Sweden in December this year and Norway in February which will be our last chance to pull our skills together. After that we will be training hard in the UK until the expedition itself in November 2023. We need to maintain a high level of strength and fitness in order to achieve our goals, so it's something we all take very seriously. 

Blue sky snow scene

EF:. Do you have any advice for others who are just beginning their polar expedition planning?

AFA: I'd say train super hard and go forth and make new contacts! We have had a lot of advice from experienced people simply because we have reached out to them. Also social media is a must - good content will get you seen and supported from a wider audience. And good luck!