Written by Naina Mahajan, a grade 6 student.
Going on an expedition to Antarctica is hard, even as a group. One must worry about food, clothing, medical supplies, research supplies etc. But to do a solo expedition? That’s the hardest of all. Very few people have done it before, and one person who has broken barriers doing it is Harpreet Kaur “Preet” Chandi, a British-Indian medical officer, who is the first woman of colour to finish a solo expedition, on the 3rd of January 2022, to the South Pole.
A little about her
Preet Chandi was born in Derby, England in 1989 to Punjabi-Sikh parents. She was very keen on tennis as a teenager and went to a tennis school in Surrey at fourteen, and to the Czech Republic at sixteen, where former professional tennis player Jiri Novak had a tennis school.
She joined the Army Reserves at the age of nineteen and became part of the British Royal Army at twenty-seven. She received a directive from the Territorial Army on 23rd March 2013, to be a lieutenant in the Royal Medical Corps, as a physiotherapist and medical worker. She was elevated to the rank of captain on the 16th of December 2015.
The British Ministry of Defence publicly launched her expedition on 21st October 2021, while noting that she had been training vigorously for it for two years. She started her solo expedition from the Hercules Inlet of Antarctica. The journey from there to the South Pole involved travelling around 700 miles (around 1,126 kilometres) while pulling a sled, with about 48 days’ worth of supplies, weighing 90 kilograms.
Preet Chandi is not the first woman to have undertaken a solo expedition to the South Pole and to successfully complete it; however, she is thought to be the first woman of colour to do so. The first woman to complete a solo expedition to the South Pole was Liv Arnesen from Norway, who undertook the journey in 1994, and the first woman to ever set foot in Antarctica was Caroline Mikkelsen, a Danish-Norwegian explorer, who landed there in 1935.
Preet completed her journey in a mere 40 days, 7 hours, and 3 minutes, making her the third-fastest solo woman to journey to the South Pole.
Her journey was tough, but she never gave up, and she was quoted after completing the journey as saying, “I don’t want to just break the glass ceiling, I want to smash it into a million pieces.”
Well, she definitely did and how!!!
A true inspiration for all.
Headline image from Twitter: Preet Chandi@PreetChandi10