Polar Preet sets new world record and has to break off expedition | Polarjournal
The map shows the record distance covered by Polar Preet in 68 days, over 1,430 km. In doing so, she set a new world record for women’s distance on skis and unsupported in Antarctica. The previous record of 1,381 km had been set by the German Anja Blacha only in 2020. Image: Screenshot website Polar Preet

This year, numerous expeditions have taken place towards the South Pole and some of them also aimed at setting new records. One expedition had generated particular attention, that of the British adventurer and member of the British armed forces, Captain Preet Chandi, also known as “Polar Preet”. For in the same year in which she had already become the first woman of color to ski alone and without support to the South Pole, she started her next record attempt, namely the crossing of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. Now the adventure came to an early end, but not without setting a world record.

In 68 days, Polar Preet covered the new record distance of 1,432 kilometers on foot, equipped only with the gear on her pulka. The route took the 33-year-old Briton from Hercules Inlet Glacier in the Weddell Sea area via the South Pole to the Ross Sea. The previous record of 1,381 kilometers was set by German polar adventurer Anja Blacha in 2020.

British Preet Chandi had actually started the expedition to become the first woman of color to cross Antarctica on the Hercules Inlet Glacier – South Pole – Reedy Glacier route. But due to running out of food, the adventurer had to abandon the expedition and had to be picked up shortly before her destination. Image (archive): Polar Preet

But the new world record came at a costly price, as the 33-year-old Briton had to cut short her expedition this year and be picked up by a plane today, Saturday, January 21, 2023, after some 68 days on the road. The reason for this was running out of food and insufficient calorie intake at the end. On her blog, which she had been keeping up with news throughout the course of her expedition, she wrote yesterday, “I’m constantly hungry at the moment. I think I’ve burned quite a lot of calories.” The British woman announced the decision to be picked up back on January 19. At the time, she wrote, “I’m pretty gutted that I dont have the time to complete the crossing. I know that I have done a huge journey, it’s just difficult while I’m on the ice and I know it’s not that far away.”

After 57 days Polar Preet had reached the South Pole, 17 days longer than on her first expedition. Difficult weather conditions and numerous sastrugi alternating with soft snow had made it (and many other expeditions) quite difficult to advance

Polar Preet had originally planned to cross Antarctica on the route from Hercules Inlet Glacier via the South Pole to Reedy Glacier on the coast of the Ross Sea as part of their “Breaking Boundaries” campaign. She had estimated between 70 and 75 days for this and had started out equipped accordingly. But the first leg between the Weddell Sea and the South Pole was more difficult than planned. Soft snow, alternated with many sastrugi (hard waves on the surface) made it difficult for the Brit to move forward. The weather was not exactly on the expedition’s side either. Some other expeditions had also suffered from this and had to give up early. But Polar Preet stuck to her plan and had reached the South Pole after 57 days. After that, she immediately continued on towards Reedy Glacier.

Despite the abort, the adventurer is now left with the world record and the fact that with her deed she was also able to show numerous schools and people, especially women, what can be achieved with determination and perseverance. And who knows, maybe the fact that it was almost done will lure the adventurer back to the white wilderness of Antarctica once again, just as it has happened to many previous adventurers.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

Link to the website of Polar Preet Chandi

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