On November 24, British Sikh Army officer and physiotherapist, Captain Harpreet Chandi, began her journey to the South Pole. She finally reached her destination on Monday, January 3, and created history by becoming the first Indian-origin woman to trek solo to the southernmost part of the globe. She travelled 700 miles (1,127 kilometres) in 40 days and documented the experience on her live blog. She uploaded a live tracking map of her trek as she wanted her readers to enjoy her adventure as well. “I want to take as many of you as possible on this journey with me so I hope you enjoy following,” she wrote in her blog before kickstarting her journey.
After exploring the Antarctic wilderness and battling extreme temperatures of minus 50 degrees celsius, the 32-year-old officer made the final entry on her blog and wrote, “Day 40—Finished. Preet has just made history by becoming the first woman of colour to complete a solo expedition in Antarctica.”
This historical feat is making every Indian around the globe extremely proud and here’s everything you need to know about Capt. Chandi and her glorious trail.
Harpreet Chandi, also known as ‘Polar Preet’, is currently serving in the British Army and is a Clinical Training Officer at the Medical Regiment in the northwest of England. Her primary role is to organise and validate training for medics in the Army. She is based in London and completing her master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Medicine from Queen Mary’s University.
As an ‘endurance athlete,’ the officer has run several marathons and ultra-marathons. She has also been deployed in Nepal, Kenya and has recently completed a six-month United Nations peacekeeping tour to South Sudan.
Capt. Chandi flew to Chile in November to begin her journey to the snow-capped region. Interestingly, until three years ago, she had no idea about the polar world. It was her curiosity that made her plan the adventure in the first place. In one of her blog entries, she wrote, “Antarctica is the coldest, highest, driest and windiest continent on earth. Nobody lives there permanently. I didn’t know much about the continent when I first started planning and that is what inspired me to go there.”
She completed the trek while pulling a sledge with all of her kits and to do that successfully, she went through intense training for months. She dragged around two large tyres for several months as a part of her polar training.
She penned down an emotional note after reaching the endpoint and wrote, “I made it to the South Pole where it’s snowing. Feeling so many emotions right now. I knew nothing about the polar world three years ago and it feels so surreal to finally be here. It was tough getting here and I want to thank everybody for their support.”
Harpreet believes in pushing her physical limits and motivating people to do the same. While talking about her journey, she said that it held a deeper meaning in her life. She wrote, “This expedition was always about so much more than me. I want to encourage people to push their boundaries and to believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do it without being labelled a rebel. I have been told no on many occasions and told to just do the ‘normal thing’, but we create our own normal.”
Not only she is creating her own path, but inspiring her readers to do the same and create their own destiny. She added, “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.”
Capt. Chandi got engaged to Army reservist, David Jarman, before leaving for the expedition. She plans to get married to her fiance very soon and asked her BFFs and sister to be her bridesmaids from the South Pole. She wrote, “I read somewhere that when you ask people to be your bridesmaids it’s nice to do it in a special way, so all the way from Antarctica, I would love nothing more than for you to be my bridesmaids. Sonia Chandi, Rachel Tucker-Norton, Kamal Dhamrait, Tig Bridge, Hannah Sawford (or Hannah Smith now) and Collette Davey.”
Harpreet Chandi is truly an inspiration for all of us and we’re so proud of her historical feat. Congratulations Captain!
Feature Image: Instagram