“Polar Preet” on solo Antarctica crossing | Polarjournal
“Polar Preet” is on tour again, taking on an even bigger challenge than last year when she went to the South Pole solo and unsupported. Now she is well on her way to setting a record as the first woman to cross solo Antarctica. Photo: Harpreet Chandi

Once before, Captain Harpreet Chandi – “Polar Preet” – made history when she became the first woman of color to reach the South Pole on her own in just 40 days. It was her first Antarctic expedition, just a year ago. However, this was only phase one of their big goal – the solo crossing of Antarctica. This is the challenge she is currently facing. Just over ten months later,in mid-November, “Polar Preet” set off for phase two and has now been underway for 33 days in mostly difficult conditions. And with this expedition she can make history again: she would be the first woman to conquer the White Continent alone and unassisted.

Her first solo expedition to the South Pole already brought her a lot of recognition, but it was actually “only” the test run and an important preparation for “Polar Preet”‘s big goal to cross Antarctica alone and without support. Originally, she did not intend to go only as far as the South Pole, but wanted to tackle the crossing of Antarctica right away. But Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions rejected her application due to lack of experience.

In hindsight, she’s glad she was able to successfully complete Phase One first: “They were 100% right so I created phase one to get the experience. That was the 700 miles I completed earlier this year. A rejection does not always need to be the end of the story, it can be an opportunity. That additional experience I have has been invaluable,” Captain Chandi, who serves as a physiotherapist in the British Army, writes on her blog.

The numerous sastrugi, hard waves and grooves in the snow formed by the wind, often make it difficult for Chandi to make progress with the heavy pulk. But, as here on the 11th day of the expedition, at least the horizon is visible. Photo: Harpreet Chandi

Now, with the necessary experience, “Polar Preet” is well on her way to mastering phase two and the personal challenge that is so important to her. What drives her is the certainty that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. With this principle, she also wants to inspire other people to push boundaries and grow beyond themselves. “I wanted to show that no matter where we are from, no matter what we look like, we can achieve anything we want. I want to inspire others to push their boundaries and encourage them to believe in themselves. I want to break that glass ceiling,” Chandi said.

This time, her pulk weighs 120 kilograms – 33 kilograms more than during her South Pole expedition. Photo: Harpreet Chandi

Set out on November 14, 2022, she has now been on tour for 33 days in storms, whiteouts and through soft powder snow that makes moving forward even more arduous. In total, Chandi will cover about 1,800 kilometers on her approximately 75-day tour from Hercules Inlet via the South Pole to Reedy Glacier in the Ross Ice Shelf. At 120 kilograms, she will have to pull an even heavier pulk than on her first expedition, not least because the equipment had to be expanded to include ice screws, ice axes, equipment for crevasses and crampons.

Before the expedition, Chandi launched a competition for students around the world. They were asked to design logos for “Polar Preet”. Chandi put the best 11 logos as stickers on her pulk. The winners will be announced every week. This logo by Darcey Wright of Broadland High Ormiston Academy near Norwich, UK perfectly reflects Harpreet Chandi’s motto.

The most difficult part of the expedition will probably be the descent over the Reedy Glacier. “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,” she explains.

The Antarctic crossing takes “Polar Preet” from Hercules Inlet across the South Pole to Reedy Glacier in the Ross Ice Shelf. Map: Julia Hager via GoogleEarth

As she did on her first expedition, she keeps everyone following along with her daily audio updates posted on her website. She must arrive at her destination by January 25, 2023 at the latest, because by then her supplies and fuel will be exhausted.

Julia Hager, PolarJournal

Link to the website of “Polar Preet”: https://polarpreet.com

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