How to

14 December 2016

5 Tips to Beat the Cold from the Ice Maidens

You may think it’s hard enough to get out of bed in the morning onto a cold floor, but spare a thought for those crazy enough to survive below freezing conditions. That’s exactly the mission for the “Ice Maidens,” a team training to become the first all-female squad to cross Antarctica. They gave some tips to Marie Claire, and we’ve got the rundown here.

Major Natalie Taylor - @IceMaidenNat
First, some background on the Ice Maiden expert, Major Natalie Taylor, whose day job is working as a GP for the British Army, looking after casualties all over the world. One place that doesn’t take her, however, is Antarctica, but excitingly, her hobby does! That hobby is being a member of the Ice Maidens, who are training to be the first all-female team to cross the icy southern continent coast-to-coast.

The team will have to deal with freezing -40°C conditions whilst traversing 1700km of the treacherous terrain Antarctica has to offer. The expedition takes 75 days, and each woman will pull a 70-80kg sled for the whole thing.  ‘If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from the military it’s that anything is achievable,’ Taylor told Marie Claire. ‘The physical training helps me to switch off from the emotionally taxing day job I have. It also makes me a stronger person as I have a lot to draw on when the going gets tough. If we can survive the arctic, we’ll survive anything.’

That’s serious stuff, so who better to provide serious tips for keeping warm in winter. Here they are:

Wear a Hat

This one might sound obvious, but you lose a lot of heat from an uncovered head so make sure to cover it well with a hat. If you’re doing exercise like, say, pulling ridiculously heavy sleds over Antarctica or going for a quick winter jog, your head can overheat, however, so make sure you don’t get to that stage. One option is an ear-covering headband that stops too much heat loss while still letting your head vent.

Layer Up

The importance of a good layer system can’t be overestimated. The base layer should be a wicking material to take sweat away from the skin (the Ice Maidens use net tops). The mid layer should be reasonably insulating but not too heavy. Something like a fleece will do. Finally, cover all that up with a waterproof, windproof outer layer that keeps out the worst of the elements.

Keep Your Feet Warm

They’re the closest thing to the ground, thus most at risk of plunging into a snowdrift or icy puddle. But they’re also the most important to keep warm and dry, Taylor told Marie Claire. Apparently, studies by the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff found that you’re much more likely to catch a cold if your feet are wet. Not to mention, wet feet and activity combine to cause painful blisters and infections. Make sure to dry them properly whenever you can, and keep a change of socks around.

Stop the Draught

Areas that are potential chinks in your anti-cold armour are those where there are breaks in the outerwear, letting in chilly draughts; namely the wrist, neck, and ankles. Block those pesky draughts out with elasticated gloves and a snood or scarf.

Keep Your Skin Fresh

The final tip from Ice Maiden Taylor concerns maintaining the vitality of your skin against the weathering effects of icy conditions. Taylor says that the team rarely wash their faces when out in cold weather in an effort to preserve the skin’s natural layer of oils. She also recommends using a heavy-duty moisturiser to keep those pores looking tight even when you’re halfway to the South Pole (or jogging in your local park).

So there you have it, some top tips from a true expert. Follow them and you might just be recruited to the Ice Maidens (or Ice Masters, they still need to be started - no record at stake though)!

Sam Franklin

With a master’s in Literature, Sam inhales books and anything readable, spending his working hours reformulating the info he gathers into digestible articles. When not reading or writing, he likes to put his camera to work around the world, snapping street photography from Stockholm to Tokyo. Too much of this time spent in Japan teaching English has nurtured a weakness for sashimi, Japanese whisky, and robot caf├ęs.