Preet Chandi pulled a sled more than 1100 kilometres through freezing temperatures and ferocious winds to make it to the South Pole and hopes others will follow her lead in creating her own “normal”.
In doing so, the 32 year old army officer and physio became the first woman of colour to achieve a solo expedition across Antarctica, and the third-fastest woman to trek across the continent.
The journey took 45 days, at times through temperatures of minus 50 degrees Celsius and winds reaching 60km per hour. The whole time she pulled her supplies via an 88kg sled. She averaged 27km a day, sending audio and photos to her family via specialized communications equipment.
“It feels so surreal to finally be here,” Chandi said announcing the achievement on social media. “I made it to the South Pole where it is snowing.”
Incredibly, she knew nothing about the polar world three years ago.
“This expedition was always about so much more than me,” she shared on Instagram.
“I wanted to encourage people to push boundaries and believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do it without being labeled a rebel.
“I have been told no on many occasions and told to “just do the normal thing”, but we create our own normal. You are capable of anything you want. No matter where you are from or where your start line is, everybody starts somewhere. I don’t want to just break the glass ceiling, I want to smash it into a million pieces.”
Before starting the journey, “Polar Preet” as she’s become known told the BBC: “I lot of people tell me I don’t look like a polar explorer. It’s considered out of the norm for an Asian woman to do those – it’s different. And that’s part of the reason why I wanted to do this – for people who don’t fit a certain image.”
To train for the expedition, Chandi pulled a tyre along streets in Derby and made a 27-day journey to Greenland to get accustomed to the weather.
She said she was feeling “many emotions” on making the journey.