The first woman of color to reach the South Pole plans to become the first solo woman in Antarctica
An intrepid Army officer who embarked on a historic voyage to the South Pole is now hoping to become the first woman to complete a solo and unassisted voyage through Antarctica.
Captain Preet Chandi, a British Army medical officer, became the first black woman to complete a solo, unassisted journey to the South Pole in January, after covering 700 miles in 40 days.
The 33-year-old – also known as “Polar Preet” – said she is now training for “phase two” of her expedition, which will involve a journey of more than 1,000 miles in temperatures as low as minus 50C and wind speeds of up to 60 mph and pulls a sled alongside her kit.
The coast-to-coast journey, which she is due to begin in October, is expected to take around 75 days.
Captain Preet Chandi, 33, has set himself the goal of crossing 1,000 miles unassisted across Antarctica
The British Army medical officer became the first woman of color to complete an unassisted trip to the South Pole earlier this year and is now hoping to make history again
Preet from Derby will be taking a few months leave from the army at the end of the year for her expedition.
In an Instagram post announcing the expedition, she said: “Why did I even go to Antarctica and why am I going back?
“I wanted to show that no matter where we come from, no matter what we look like, we can achieve anything we want.
“I want to inspire others to push their limits and encourage them to believe in themselves. I want to break this glass ceiling!’
The army physiotherapist, who has also served in South Sudan, has shared more updates on her journey, writing on her blog that she is “doing so many things now that I didn’t even think I would be able to do 5 years ago in would be able to … do not limit yourself.’
Preet smiled on her historic 700-mile solo trek to the South Pole earlier this year
Her daily exercise routine includes cardio and strength training, as well as lugging tires to replicate the weight of her sled.
As she completed her 700-mile journey to the South Pole earlier this year, Preet said it felt “surreal.”
For that feat, she had pulled a 190-pound sled for 45 days alone to tackle her epic challenge of completing a 700-mile hike in just 40 days.
The London-based soldier, who serves in a medical regiment in north-west England, began her epic journey on November 24, 2021 after flying to the ice cap from Chile in South America.
The adventurous 33-year-old had to pull a 190-pound sled in minus 50 degrees for 45 days
Sending out daily blog posts and pictures, she revealed how she skied for around 11 hours every day – and had to “laugh out” every time she fell over due to the icy conditions.
Using live tracking data to update friends, family and followers on her route, Preet completed her extraordinary mission on January 3rd.
After completing her trip, she shared an inspiring message: “I knew nothing about the polar world three years ago and it feels so surreal to finally be here.
“It was hard to get here and I want to thank everyone for their support.
This expedition was always about so much more than me. I want to encourage people to push their limits and believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do so without being labeled as a rebel.
“I’ve been told no on many occasions and told to just do normal,” but we create our own normal. You are capable of anything you want.
“No matter where you come from or where your starting line is, everyone starts somewhere. I don’t just want to break the glass ceiling, I want to smash it into a million pieces.’
The British-born Indian Sikh said she hopes to inspire other Asian women with her historic achievement.
After flying from Punta Arenas in Chile to Union Glacier in Antarctica, Preet took off from Hercules Inlet on the southern edge of the Ronne Ice Shelf, 702 miles from the South Pole
She revealed that she was thrown eggs as a teenager because she “looked different.”
In a blog post, she wrote: “It took me a long time to be proud of the color of my skin. I used to be embarrassed about having eggs thrown at me and people spitting on me when I was a teenager because I “looked different”, it certainly didn’t help.
“It took me a while to appreciate my culture and my roots. So if I call myself a “woman of color” it’s because I’m finally proud of the color of my skin, my roots, my culture.
“This term is not used to offend anyone. It’s part of me and doing this expedition as a woman of color is incredibly powerful. Having been told on many occasions that I don’t look like an arctic explorer… let’s change the image you’re expecting.’
She told the Army before setting out: “When I made the decision to go to Antarctica, I didn’t know that I was going to be the first woman of color to go on a solo expedition on the continent, and the People said to me: “You don’t look like a polar explorer”.
But sport and competition have always been in her blood. She left home at 14 to play tennis at an academy before joining the Novak Djokovic Academy in the Czech Republic just two years later.
She’s also an ultramarathoner and has completed some of the world’s most grueling challenges, including last year’s 156-mile Marathon des Sables across the Sahara.
The other inspiring British women who broke records in Antarctica
Mollie Hughes (pictured at Edinburgh Airport after becoming the world’s youngest woman to scale Mount Everest from both sides in 2017), 29, who lives in Edinburgh, became the youngest woman to ski solo to the South Pole in 2019
British women seem to have a penchant for conquering Antarctica – and setting records in the process.
In 2012, Britain’s Felicity Aston became the first woman to ski across the ice cap alone.
The record-breaking adventuress completed her arduous journey across the frozen continent on January 23 of the same year, after pulling two sleds 1,084 miles for 59 days.
She tweeted that she made it as far as Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice Shelf after finally completing her journey that began on November 25, 2011 at the Leverett Glacier.
Aston of Kent also set another record for being the first human to cross Antarctica on skis alone using his own muscle power.
A male-female team has already teamed up to cross Antarctica without kites or machines to cross it, but Aston was the first to do so alone.
Recently, Edinburgh-based adventurer Mollie Hughes, 29, became the youngest woman to ski solo to the South Pole in January 2020.
Ms Hughes skied for 58.5 days during her lone trek across Antarctica before confirming she had reached the geographic South Pole.
Ms Hughes, originally from Devon, hauled 105kg on the 702-mile journey from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole.
She described her expedition, which began on November 13, 2019, as “extremely tough” due to the “extreme” conditions.
Initially hoping to reach the South Pole by New Year’s Day, the weather nearly derailed her in the first two weeks.
She faced headwinds in excess of 55 knots, temperatures of -45C and a whiteout for eight straight days.
In 2017, Ms. Hughes became the youngest woman in the world to climb Mount Everest from both sides.
She said at the time of her first expedition: “I think it’s really important to show diversity and increase that diversity, just to show that it’s possible and it doesn’t matter where you’re from, what your background is or how you look. you can achieve something like that.
“It might not be the norm, I might not be the image you would expect when you do something like this, but I think it’s important to break out of what people expect to be the norm … if enough people do something new.” do it will be normal.’
According to the army, Preet had never camped before joining the force.
She has since been mountaineering and wild camping in Wales and has spent months learning polar navigation and sledding in Norway.
The super fit squaddie has also hiked in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.