British Army physio and trailblazing polar explorer Captain Preet Chandi is aiming to be the first woman to cross Antarctica solo and unsupported.
‘Polar’ Preet will tackle the 1,100-mile plus expedition unsupported, meaning she will pull all her kit and supplies on a sledge (pulk), weighing around 120kg (19 stone) at the start of her epic journey, while battling temperatures of -50c and wind speeds of up to 60mph.
In January she created history by becoming the first woman of colour to reach the South Pole solo and unsupported.
Having done 700 miles to the South Pole, I know I can do 1,100 miles. Captain Preet Chandi
She did so in 40 days, just short of the female world record. This challenge is expected to take almost twice as long.
The main difference between the two expeditions will be descending Reedy Glacier towards the end of this journey.
Preet, aged 33, said: “I expect the journey to take approximately 75 days. Having done 700 miles to the South Pole, I know I can do 1,100 miles.
“Obviously, I will make slower progress at the beginning because of the extra weight of my pulk. It will include ice screws, an ice axe, crevasse equipment and crampons which are only needed for that last part.
“It’s a technical aspect that wasn’t part of the South Pole trek, getting down a glacier with my pulk. I’ll also need to try to avoid the crevasses there or be very careful crossing them as I’m on my own.
“At the glacier it’s not as easy to get water. I would normally just shovel up snow, so I need to think about all of that.”
From the South Pole to the base of the glacier is around 354 nautical miles (655km). Of this, about 75 nautical miles (140km) is on the glacier which climbs from around 763m to 2,931m.
Battling the conditions and the weight of her pulk, Preet will need to ensure she doesn’t run out of time to write her name in the history books again.
The British Army is extremely proud to have such a remarkable ambassador Lieutenant General Nesmith
Deputy Chief of the General Staff
She said: “Seventy-five days is the maximum time I have to complete the journey. I haven’t set myself a specific target. It’s important to be smart. I can’t afford to rush it. Consistency is really important."
“I don’t know what the ground or the weather will be like. If there’s lots of heavy snowfall it will slow me down. I need to hit the South Pole by a certain point to give me enough time to go down and navigate the glacier.
“Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions [which supervises all Antarctic expeditions] leaves at the end of January, and I would run out of food and fuel if I’m not finished by then. If I haven’t made it by around the 25th, then I’d have to abandon the attempt.”
Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Sharon Nesmith said: “The British Army is extremely proud to have such a remarkable ambassador. Captain Chandi embodies the qualities we seek of all who serve – courage, commitment, and the want to be the best we can be.”
“I would encourage everyone to listen to the Polar Preet podcast, telling the story of her previous expedition to the South Pole, which was an inspiration to so many.”
“We wish her the very best on her latest attempt to write a new chapter in the history books. I will be following her progress with admiration and pride.”
Preet, who is based with Regional Rehabilitation Unit, Halton, is due to begin her trek at the start of November.