Princess of Wales becomes Patron of Captain Preet Chandi’s expedition across Antarctica

Captain Preet Chandi gives a speech to guests at the launch event in London.

The Princess of Wales has become Patron of Captain Preet Chandi’s expedition across Antarctica.

Captain Chandi MBE is aiming to become the first woman to cross Antarctica solo and unsupported, travelling over 1000 miles.

Captain Chandi is taking part in the challenge to inspire future generations to believe in themselves, to push their boundaries and show how the outdoors can help them achieve their dreams. The Princess has long been an advocate of the huge impact the outdoors can have on our wellbeing and the life skills it nurtures, such as confidence and resilience.

She is committed to promoting this to young people, including through her work with organisations such as the Scouts, of which she is joint President. Preet’s historic expedition is the pinnacle of such activity and that is why The Princess is delighted to have been invited to be Patron.

Captain Preet Chandi MBE said:

“My aim for this expedition has always been to inspire people to push their boundaries. I want to bring people on this journey with me, to help them believe that nothing is impossible.

“It is an absolute privilege to have The Princess of Wales as the Patron.”

In January 2021, Captain Chandi created history by becoming the first woman of colour to reach the South Pole solo and unsupported. She finished the route in 40 days, just short of the female world record of 38 days held by Joanna Davidson of Sweden.

Photographer: Preet Chandi © Copyright Preet Chandi 2022

This time Preet will pull all her kit and supplies on a sledge weighing around 120kg while battling temperatures of -50c and wind speeds of up to 60mph. She is due to begin her trek at the start of November and has 75 days to complete the 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.

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.”

Captain Chandi is a physiotherapist and serving member of the British Army, currently working as a physiotherapist at a Regional Rehabilitation Unit in Buckinghamshire, providing rehabilitation for injured soldiers and officers.

Preet is due to begin her trek at the start of November.


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