‘Polar Preet’ Chandi

In January 2022, British Army medical officer Preet Chandi became the first woman of color to ski solo to the South Pole. Her extraordinary achievement has quickly made headlines across the world and now serves as an inspiration for a new generation of adventurers.

The British-born Sikh servicewoman decided to take on the solo expedition to motivate people to challenge cultural norms and inspire young people, women and those from ethnic backgrounds. Growing up, Preet experienced discrimination and was not always comfortable with her identity, however, as she grew older she leant to fully embrace her identity.

Preet’s preparation for the South Pole challenge took two years, during which she took a polar training course in Norway and then trained for six days a week back in United Kingdom to build her endurance. She then took off on her very first expedition in Greenland, which gave her a taste of what to expect in Antarctica. This lasted 27 days and was physically and mentally exhausting.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic hampered her preparations, Preet did not give up and continued to plan her trip across the South Pole. Finally on 24th November 2021, Preet found herself at the Union Glacier camp in Antarctica, where she began the 700-mile-long journey pulling a sled weighing 192 lbs that carried essential food, fuel and equipment.

She averaged a distance of 17 miles per day, while pulling her sled and tackling 60 mph winds. Whenever she started to feel defeated, she would listen to Audiobooks and voice notes from friends and family which she had downloaded on her phone to keep her motivated.

Despite being extremely mentally and physically drained, Preet reached the South Pole in 40 days. After finally completing her incredibly difficult journey, she remembers the moment being surreal yet very peaceful.

Apart from being a personal milestone, the challenge also included a fundraising element. With all the money raised, Preet plans to set up an adventure grant for women with half of the funds she received through GoFundMe for her expedition.

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