Polar Preet makes furthest unsupported solo polar ski expedition in history
Written by First Choice Radio on 29 January 2023
A female Army officer battled exhaustion and temperatures as low as minus 30C to make the furthest unsupported solo polar ski expedition in history.
Captain Preet Chandi covered 922 miles (1,485km) in 70 days and 16 hours, breaking the record for the longest solo, unsupported, unassisted expedition in Antarctica, according to the British Army.
The previous world record of 907 miles (1,459km) was set in 2015 by fellow soldier Henry Worsley, a retired lieutenant colonel, who later died after collapsing from exhaustion towards the end of the trek.
Capt Chandi, dubbed “Polar Preet”, fell short of completing her target of going coast to coast, around 100 miles (160km) from where she was picked up.
The 33-year-old, from Derby, said: “Mentally, it was tough knowing I didn’t have enough time to make the crossing, but the expedition was about pushing my boundaries and inspiring others to do the same, so how could I not continue?
“I’m disappointed I ran out of time to make the crossing of Antarctica, but I did everything I could. I didn’t take a day off and pushed as hard as possible every day.
“I’m proud that I kept going when it was tough and I thought I couldn’t do any more.”
Capt Chandi skied for between 13 and 15 hours per day with as little as five hours’ sleep at times.
During the trek she pulled all her kit and supplies on a sledge (pulk), weighing around 19 stone (120kg), while battling temperatures as low as minus 30C and wind speeds of up to 60mph.
Capt Chandi completed the challenge while on a period of leave from her Army role, having joined the Army Reserves at the age of 19 and the regular Army at 27.
She is now based in Buckinghamshire, working as a physiotherapist at a regional rehabilitation unit, helping injured soldiers with training and rehabilitation.
A GoFundMe page has raised more than £11,000, half of which will go to an “adventure grant” for women carrying out “unique challenges”, while the other half will go towards Capt Chandi’s next expedition.
She became the first woman of colour to embark on a solo expedition on the continent when she completed a 700-mile (1,127km) ski to the South Pole in January last year, a challenge she finished in 40 days, seven hours and three minutes – the third-fastest female to complete the feat.
Steve Jones, expedition manager for Antarctic Logistics Expeditions (Ale), said: “Preet’s aim of skiing more than 1,700km across Antarctica alone and without resupply is one of the most physically demanding challenges on Earth.
“Although she ran out of time after almost 71 hard days and did not complete the last leg of the planned route down the Reedy Glacier to the Ross Ice Shelf, she has skied further unsupported and alone than anyone in history.
“Her indomitable courage and determination are quite remarkable – she has pushed the boundaries of human endeavour.”
Lieutenant General Sharon Nesmith, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, said: “The British Army is immensely proud of Captain Chandi.
“To achieve what she has in the face of extremely arduous conditions and battle on bravely, refusing to give up, and to be the best she can possibly be is a huge inspiration to so many around the world.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub