Preet Chandi, considered the first woman of color to make a solo crossing of Antarctica, ended her expedition to the South Pole nearly a week early.
Chandi, or “Polar Preet,” endured temperatures of -50C as she skied 700 miles across Antarctica in 40 days, seven hours and three minutes, narrowly missing setting a new record. of the world by a woman for the trek.
She finished just behind the time set by Sweden’s Johanna Davidsson, who finished in 38 days, 23 hours and five minutes in 2016.
Chandi, 32, is now the third fastest solo skier on the expedition behind Davidsson and Briton Hannah McKeand, who recorded a time of 39 days, nine hours and 33 minutes in 2006.
She is also the first person to reach the South Pole on foot in two years.
Chandi, a British Army physiotherapist who lives in Derby, said it was surreal to achieve his goal: “I have reached the South Pole where it is snowing. I am feeling so many emotions right now. I didn’t know anything about the polar world three years ago and it’s so surreal to finally be here. It was difficult to get here and I want to thank everyone for their support.
“This expedition has always been 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 that without being labeled a rebel.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from or where your starting line is, everyone starts somewhere.”
In addition to the freezing temperatures, Chandi endured winds of up to 60 mph and battled white sails while pulling a 90kg sled through sastrugi, parallel wave-shaped ridges on hard snow caused by the winds.
She was also suffering from exhaustion towards the end of the trip, as well as a persistent cough and nausea.
Departing on November 24 from Hercules Inlet, Chandi aimed to complete his journey in 45 days, carrying enough rations for 48 days. In the end, she finished five days ahead of schedule, covering an average daily distance of around 17 miles.
She has spent years training for the trek, after completing a 27-day expedition to the Greenland ice cap and competing in ultramarathons including the grueling Marathon des Sables across the Sahara.
Chandi said she hoped her trip would inspire young people, women and people from ethnic minorities. Speaking to The Guardian during her training for the trek, she said people didn’t expect an Asian woman to attempt such an endeavor.
“I am an Asian woman; I’m not the image people expect to see there, ”she said. “People say the outdoors is for everyone and yes it is. But if you come from a community that doesn’t participate at all, or if you don’t see someone who looks like you doing it, it can be very difficult.
After completing the trek, she plans to set up an adventure grant to help more women fund expeditions in what is often a male-dominated arena.
“I’ve been told ‘no’ and ‘just do the normal thing’ over and over again, but we are creating our own normalcy,” she said. “You are capable of anything you want. “