the South Pole
Top of mountain range with snow and ice near South Pole in Antarctica. (StefanRenner/Shutterstock)

First Woman of Color Conquers Solo South Pole Ski Exploration

In June 2021, we reported on Aretha Duarte of Brazil becoming the first-ever Black Latinx woman to climb to the top of Mount Everest. And now, another daring adventurer has set another historic first.

Laura Smith-Spark and Francesca Street of CNN reported that Preet Chandi, a British-born Sikh army officer, is the first woman of color to complete a solo expedition to the South Pole. 

According to CNN, “Chandi, who has spent the past few months skiing solo and unsupported across Antarctica, announced on Jan. 3 that she’d completed the 700-mile trek in 40 days.”

In a blog post, Chandi said she was “feeling so many emotions” about completing the trek, adding that the expedition was more than about her.  

“I want to encourage people to push their boundaries and believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do it without being labeled a rebel,” she said.

In November 2021, before her trip began, Chandi — who goes by the nickname “Polar Preet” — told reporters that she wanted her trek to “inspire others to push their boundaries and defy cultural norms.” 

According to CNN, Chandi spent two and a half years preparing for the expedition. “Chandi began her expedition on Nov. 7, 2021, flying to Chile and then embarking from Antarctica’s Hercules Inlet. Along the way, she hauled a sled weighing 90 kilograms (nearly 200 pounds) holding kit, fuel and food to last for roughly 45 days,” Smith-Spark and Street said. 

During the course of her adventure, Chandi only made contact with the outside world once a day, checking in with her support team, who posted updates on her blog and Instagram. She also dedicated each of her dispatches to individuals who inspired and motivated her throughout her life, including family members and her late grandfather.

Reflecting on her role in the history books, Chandi told CNN, “I’m not really the image I think people expect to see, even now. I’m told that ‘you don’t really look like a polar explorer.’” 

Chandi told CNN she hopes her journey inspires people to do something outside their comfort zones. 

Now that she has returned from Antarctica, Chandi said she wants to use the money raised on her polar trip to create an “adventure grant” for other women looking to break the mold as she has done.

“It can be for any adventure, any unique adventure they want to do that is pushing some kind of boundary,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a polar expedition. And I really hope that this is something that will continue, year after year after year.”

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

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