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On today’s Podcast, we have Preet Chandi. Preet Chandi is an army officer, physiotherapist and endurance athlete. She became the first person to reach the south pole on foot in two years, completing the Trek and little over 40 days.

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In January 2022, Preet Chandi, or ‘polar Preet’, became the first woman of colour to ski solo to the South Pole. She conquered temperatures of minus 50 and winds of up to 60 while pulling 90 kilos. Nonetheless, she completed her 700-mile challenge almost a week ahead of schedule, skiing from Hercules Inlet to the south pole and 40 days, seven hours and three minutes. She hopes her achievement will inspire others.

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Writing this expedition was always about so much more than me. I want to encourage people to push their boundaries and believe in themselves. And I want to be able to do it without being labelled. She is an inspiration and role model as the first woman of colour to complete this impressive feat. She said everybody starts somewhere, no matter where you’re from or where the start line is.

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Transcript of our Conversation

Preet Chandi

[00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to season two with a modern adventurer podcast. I’m your host John hospital. I’m an adventurer and photographer. And each week I’ll be talking with a new guest about their latest adventure from around the world for all the new listeners and subscribers who have joined. I speak to adventurers and explorers who do remarkable things in the field of exploration and endurance.

This is an immersive podcast. Say this season, their story is cut to music and cinematically. As we immerse ourselves into the heart of their adventure. My next guest is an army officer physiotherapist and endurance athlete. She became the first person to reach the south pole on foot in two years, completing the Trek and little over 40 days.

She conquered temperatures of minus 50 and winds of up to 60 while pulling a 90 kilos. Nonetheless, she completed her 700 mile challenge almost a week ahead of schedule [00:01:00] skiing from Hercules inlet to the south pole and 40 days, seven hours and three minutes. She hopes her achievement will inspire others.

Writing 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 to be able to do it without being labeled. She is an inspiration and role model as the first woman of color to complete this impressive feat. She said, no matter where you’re from or where the start line is, everybody starts somewhere.

I didn’t want to just break the glass ceiling. I want to smash it into a million pieces. I’m delighted to introduce Preet. Chandry AKA polar Preet to the podcast. Thank you very much for having me, what I love to do at the sort of beginning of the podcast for people who don’t know you, who are you? What do you do?

And how did you get into this sort of life of adventure? Yeah, of course. So [00:02:00] my name is preach handy and I’m a physiotherapist in the British army. And how did I get into a life of adventure? Oh, wow. Good question. I am for me. I think we, the more we do, the more we realize we’re capable of. I realize that at probably your mind, my twenties, that I liked distance running.

And I started to do a little bit more and a little bit more. And for a while I knew I wanted to do something big. I just didn’t know what it was. I don’t think I’m the strongest or the quickest, but I do like to keep going. So I thought it’s going to be something long. And it was my old boss. You know, we were brainstorming and I mentioned that I wanted to do something big and he said, what about Antartica?

And I thought, not a chance. I don’t know anything about Antartica at all. You know, I I’ve never been in those kinds of conditions. And then the idea came back to me and, you know, I thought, why not? How amazing would it be to go and do something that I [00:03:00] don’t know anything about and to show. Actually we can come from any sort of background and, you know, it’s okay that I didn’t grow up reading about polar explorers.

So that’s how I kind of got into this, which I love. I love that I didn’t really know anything about it. And you know, I started on Google as you do so, so that was my start starting in into this. I think it’s sort of terrifying when you have an idea in your head and it just grows and grows and grows on you, and then suddenly it sort of consumes everything about you.

When you had these sort of things you sort of, at night, you go go to bed, sort of dreaming about it, thinking of it so much. And it sort of just takes hold. But you even beforehand were doing these sort of adventures. You had done the sort of marathon, the sub bla you had, you were a very competitive sports person.

Yeah. So I play, I played tennis when I was younger. So I started when I was 10 and and started paying, I think competitively quite, [00:04:00] quite quickly. I moved away from home when I was 14 and then lived in like a tennis house with a guardian for a short time and then 16 chat Republic. And then I moved back to England when I was 19.

So I didn’t really do Kind of the usual education only did a few GCSE is I didn’t do a levels on it for a long time. It wasn’t really something I enjoyed and I wanted to come back. And it’s funny. I think you always crave what you don’t feel like you have. And for me, I was craving some, some sort of stability and, you know, I remember.

Really keen to get into university and thought I was so, so far behind everybody else, my age, I was 19 thinking, oh, you know, I, I’m not smart enough. And again, other people told me as well, I wasn’t smart enough. And I wouldn’t, wouldn’t be able to get into university. Which is one of my biggest achievements to date.

And it’s hard to do things when either you don’t believe in yourself that other people have told you. That you, you can’t do something. [00:05:00] And I I stopped playing tennis for a long while, barely. And then try to pick it up again a little bit through, through different teams. And I think from there I wanted something that I felt was something that I enjoy, that I wanted to do.

And there was a university I decided to do a half marathon. And then after doing the half marathon, I decided to do a full marathon and it was after university that I ran. My first ultra marathon, which went terribly wrong. I mean, I’ve finished five hour horrible at the end of this. I wasn’t prepared for everything.

But then, you know, I’d almost call it that bug. And I, I joined the army when I was 19. When I came back from Czech Republic, because I saw an advert in diabetes that. I didn’t tell anybody in my family. And when I did tell people, people weren’t very happy. But again, when you were doing things that are considered out of the norm, I think that often questioned and it opened up a different world for me.

So yes, I did play sport, but [00:06:00]the kind of the outdoor world, you know, like the adventure type thing. I hadn’t been ready walking outside or like been camping. And, you know, the first time I properly went, I don’t know, you can’t really call it camping, but did that kind of thing was it was in the army. So that opened up different doors.

And I found the more that I was doing within the army, the more I started doing in my civilian civilian side. And after that ultra marathon, then, you know, I remember reading about at Martha and DeSalvo, so this, this kind of OTR mammoth, and in this heart as a, in a, in a book that I got for secret Santa it, the, the title was something along the lines of the world’s toughest challenges.

And when I first read about it, I was like, whoa, that sounds know. Like, like insane, amazing. And all of those sayings. And a few years later, I thought, well, why not just enter it? And I did. And, and in my mind I had this thing, it was like, if I can do that, if I can complete this, then I can [00:07:00] go on and do this big thing.

That was Antarctica and yes, they are in completely different climates, but it’s you know, it’s another barrier, isn’t it? It’s this big thing that I read about years ago and they’re all achievable and I’m not gonna, you know, not going to say that easy, like it, you know, it was hard to get to Antarctica.

It really was. But they are achievable. I think it’s a, we had Jamie Ramsey who on the podcast on episode four. And he, he sort of described it as blowing up a balloon. You sort of blow up the balloon and it sort of gets to this stage and you’re like, oh, okay. And then you blow a bit more and gradually it gets bigger and bigger.

And this sort of the, what you’re capable of, it just sort of grows and grows and grows. Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent. And so with the Antarctica was was that before, did the idea sort of come to you before you started doing these sort of challenges of mouth and the star blur? Or was it like math and science?

All right. What’s next? No, I had done taught to get as a really [00:08:00] vague idea at the back of my head and, but I had to do Martin Tavo before. I would start preparing or looking into it. And that was just in my head. If I can do this, I can do MDs. Then I can. And then, yeah, that’s it. I can start preparing or planning or finding out what I even do, you know, to the point I was like, do you run, do you ski?

So, you know, how do I, how do I go go there? And what do I do that. Yes. I, I had it as an idea before. And and then, and, you know, I was supposed to be like super prepared for, for going to Tara desert, but I entered and. I ended up going on a tour to South Sudan with the army. So I spent six months there and then I had some leave when I came back.

So I decided to go traveling around south America, just like kind of sprained my ankle and I think too big, but I’m one of the kind of walks there. And then came back to England with about a week to pack to get my kit ready for this race and [00:09:00] buy all my food and stuff. So I was definitely not prepared.

Not as prepared as I should have and could have been. But you know, it was great. And I was out on my own, but you’re not alone in these events. There were so many other people there with you. I shared a tent with some amazing people who I’m still in touch with to this day. So yeah, it really it was really good.

Well, I think South Sudan is probably better training than sort of up and down Hyde park in London, whether it’s a bit of sand. Yeah. But the thing is with these. So because of the temperature out there, we can’t go out and train as it gets above a certain temperature. So to be honest, I didn’t really do much.

I did a little bit of like endurance type stuff I did. I did, you know, I was, I was keeping fat and in the gym and stuff, but not really going out and running too much. Apart from one event that I decided to organize which probably part of my training, but I I said to everyone, let’s do an endurance event, you know, for charity while we’re out here.

And we did it overnight [00:10:00] because w you know, we were able to do it then. And I decided to do 12 hours on one camp that we had. So I did the whole 12 and others would come and join me for like an hour overnight. And then I thought, well, if I’m doing one camp, Did the other camp test, I’ll make it 24 hours, you know, I’ll do this one camp.

And then the week later I flew to the other camp, didn’t know that. And I thought if I’m doing 24 hours, I might as well include the transit counts. I’ll make it 30 hours. So over like a week and a half, I did. So I guess that was training this 30 hours of yeah, it’s kind of walk slash slow jog around these different camps in South Sudan for charity, which is.

Well say you go back and say, this idea of Antarctica grew on you as you sort of stepped up on these sort of challenges, but you had no sort of experience in the cold and see the problem with training through that sort of towards Norway and Greenland. And that’s sort of what you did. So. In terms of, from the [00:11:00] idea to getting out there, what was the sort of planning and execution to achieve?

Because it’s getting out there. It’s probably almost the hardest part. Yeah, it was. So I I’m, so looking online, I found Antarctic logistics and expeditions quite soon and and filled out this kind of This question and there and then they contacted me and gave me kind of a list of things that I needed to do.

You know, had, had been camping on snow. Had I done these trips, they suggested doing like a polar training course, and I did a course in February 29. Hannah, McCain’s a polar expedition training, so, you know, perfect course to do. And that was a great course and it gave me a really good baseline which is what I wanted, you know, I, I realized as well when I went there that I wasn’t starting as a complete beginner.

Like I thought I was. So I realized that, okay, I might have not put a tent in the [00:12:00] snow before, but I have put up a tent, you know, I didn’t know how to work as a team, you know, in the light, your team we were in, I knew how to use a compass and navigate. Do you know what I mean? I realize actually there were these crossover skills that I had that, that, you know, were helping me in this, in this training course.

That that gave me such a good baseline to then move forward. And it wasn’t very long after getting back from there. That it was an COVID. So then I’m in a, I’m in a medical regiment in the army. So, you know, we were on kind of notice to move. And to get to Greenland. That was, that was my toughest training trip by far.

So it just opened up for that. We could travel again around August time. Oh, I said 2019 for the last one, but I think it might’ve been trying to figure out what year I’m in now. But I went in in August to to Greenland and they’d canceled all the expeditions that year. And I was desperate to go because I knew I wanted to get to [00:13:00] Antarctica and.

Yeah, I knew I wanted to get to Antarctica and I emailed all the companies and asked if they could find me a guide. And one of the companies did find me a guide. So like the week before I was like running around the UK borrowing equipment from everybody, I could, I can afford the trip all in one go.

So I I paid instead of buying, buying the house or that I was supposed to, I use my house savings and life savings to go to Greenland. And it still wasn’t enough. So. We then agree that I’d pay off in seven months installments and. You know, we, we got out to Greenland and then quarantine, I was like three flights, a helicopter and a boat to get us to our start point.

We had some pretty tough weather out there, kind of every three days after we got over the crevasse fields, it was like a storm hit. So we’re having to kind of like, you know, Kind of stay in the tent and those days. And then the last five, six days we got stuck in a storm and I had to stay in the tent.

Anyway, we weren’t [00:14:00] going to make the full crossing and had to be extracted off the ice. So there was this trip, but I remember there was some low moments. And for me, I was in this tent on this trip, having used everything I had and I hadn’t reached the other side, which, you know, I kind of expected I would have done.

And then we will. We will have to be extracted off the ice. And I remember them asking me on the satellite phone, how I was going to pay. And that was probably one of the most stressful situations or conversations I’ve had to have, because I didn’t know. I literally, you know, I’d use everything. And eventually the company that found me the guide they paid.

And I can afford to pay them back for a year and a half or just under a year and a half. I paid them off just before I went to Antarctica and came back and then we got off the ice and I would kit, which was supposed to be on that side was wasn’t no, sorry we got off the ice. And then I flight was canceled.

Of course. And then we finally got on the internal flight to the other side of [00:15:00] Greenland where our kit was supposed to be our S you know, other clothing, which of course was in there had been sent that. And it was almost like everything that could go wrong was going wrong. So finally made it back to the UK still.

And my ski boots, my other clothes were still in. In in Greenland and I felt deflated. I felt mentally and physically deflated. I’d use all, you know, everything I had, I owed so much money. And I remember I was supposed to be doing the virtual Linda marathon the next day. And I remember my partner saying to me, you know, you don’t have to do it.

And I don’t know what it was in my mind that I think it was just to prove to myself that when I’m feeling like this, I can give more. So I didn’t have my trainers, they were in Greenland. So I used my military boots and Walked slash humbled. The London marathon virtually tipped me over. I think it was like seven and a half hours.

So that was a, that was a day. That trip. I, I talk about a lot when I talk about [00:16:00] Antarctica, because it gave me so much, it was like the best failure I’ve ever had. And I didn’t see it straight away. I think it’s really hard, you know, when you have that to straight away be like, yeah, I’m going to learn so much from this that it’s not true.

I felt horrible after, you know, it, it, wasn’t a great feeling. I learned all the things that I personally needed to work on as well. And. I learned so much from it, you know, I really did. And I used to think about it when I was in Antarctica, I think, well, at least I’m not sticking a stolen for six days. So those tough times that you have, I think we can use them.

I really did. I did do a bit more training after that. But that was one of the key trips for me. I think that I, I learned so, so much from, so we spent 27 days on the ice cap and. It it was a really good learning trout. And I realized, I said 2019 Finola. I think I met 2020 when I did that training trip, let’s say after Greenland [00:17:00] you you’d had their sort of failure and say sort of almost rock bottom was to sort of foundations to sort of build yourself up to gay towards Antioch.

Yeah, it just, it was, it was a tough time. It was you know, I didn’t have any sponsors on Thai onboard at the time. So I was using like everything I had. I was doing my masters at the time as well, which I didn’t manage to get funding for that as well. With COVID we were on notice to me. I. No, I hadn’t stopped.

I didn’t start vaccinating until the year after being one of the vaccinators, but it was, it was a tough time. I found personally and you know, I was emailing 10, 15 companies and I. I, you know, I wasn’t getting much back, obviously it was COVID as well. So when they did respond, it was, yeah, sorry, we’ve got this huge pandemic going on.

So there was so many other things going on that, that made it tough. [00:18:00] And in the background, I just, I was really determined. I just wanted to keep going. And in those tough moments and times I just took it one thing at a time. So. Okay. You know, at least I had gone to green and it took me a while to realize like what I’d learned from it.

And you know, what I could use moving forward. And, you know, I realize now looking back, like, I’m really glad it wasn’t just a smooth crossing with good weather. Would I have learned the things I learned from it? Probably not. And, and it’s, and it’s hard to see that it is, you know, and I think definitely at the time but I’m glad it went the way it did.

I don’t, yeah, I don’t look back now and think, I mean, it was a difficult trip, but you know, I look back at it. I’m like, well, it was difficult. I also did it. And I think. A lot of us have, you know, some tough times tough moments and we, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for getting through those times as well.

And I think we should, you know, we, we literally have got [00:19:00] through that time. Whereas a lot of the time I think we can be quite mean to ourselves. I certainly had, and, and I think, well, I’d never talked to my friend. I’d never talked to my friend that way. So why do I think I don’t talk to myself this way?

And so, so what was the sort of turning point? Because it sort of sounds like the time between Greenland and Antarctica was pretty tough because to get out there, you need big sponsors. You were sending 15 odd a night getting nothing back. What was the sort of turning point which went from this is never going to happen to, oh, this is, this is happening.

So I so my first, once they came on board 10 11 months before I left. And I like it’s so great to see the emails coming through because I went through the inquiry. On their website and you know, when they responded, it obviously gone forward forward, you know, like to the people. And then I did the pitch.

So I did the pitch in December and then they kind of came on board like Jay. Yeah. Jan fab time before. And [00:20:00] I found when I got that first sponsor well, one, it gave me confidence. Like, you know, I literally have a company backing me. And then I got more sponsors on board, you know, I feel like having that first sponsor yeah, it really helped like, and I started, I think it gave me a bit more life as well to like push a bit more.

Okay. Like be a bit better, a bit smarter about where I’m going. I started using LinkedIn quite a lot, to be honest and started messaging like anybody I could on LinkedIn. And got some more sponsors on board. And I mean, to be honest, without those sponsors, you know, I, I wouldn’t have been able to go to Antarctica.

I couldn’t like I’d use all, I used everything I had already, so I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. So it’s, it’s so great to like, have them on board and it’s. Yeah. It’s great to have people that support you before you’ve, you know, you’ve gone and done the thing. Cause that’s when it’s hard, right?

That’s when people are taking the risk. Whereas when I’ve come back, it’s the same [00:21:00] people who are like, yeah. You know, almost we were supportive all along and, and that’s not really the reality when I, when I had this idea. And, you know, the leader, there are a lot of people who just, weren’t very interested and, and that’s not me saying, oh, you know, you, weren’t interested.

You know, you, you don’t get to be supportive now. That’s not what I mean by that. But what I mean, or what I want to kind of say is it’s great that I’m here now, but when the next person comes along, And they, you know, have this, this idea, this, this dream, whatever it is, ambition, let’s support that person.

Let’s encourage people to push their boundaries just because we are wanting to do something that’s different from the norm. You know, that shouldn’t be discouraged. I found that quite a lot. You know, a lot of the time people would say to me, why can’t you just be normal pre almost like a bit of a joke, but, you know, because I’m doing all these things.

That, when that normal is not the expected thing, why can’t I just do the expected thing? And I want actually [00:22:00] encouraging, I want pushing our boundaries to be the normal thing, because we create our own normal. Right. And that could be whatever we want. Yeah. I think you learn a lot more about oneself and the world by doing that, getting out there, discovering whether it’s about yourself, but how far you can push yourself in that respect.

Well, sort of let’s jump into the story. Say you’ve got these bonuses. You’re now a couple of days before. You’re about to sort of start your journey. How, what are you, what are the sort of feelings going through your head as you are flying to probably. Yes. Yeah. So flying to Chile almost, I, I felt a bit more relaxed on the few days before I was flying to Chile.

It’s quite stressful I found or that few weeks but then I’m on the plane, you know, I’m on the way there which is great. And I say I’m blind to Chile. I had a stop in Amsterdam for [00:23:00] for kind of 45 minutes. You know, but I’ve got there in plenty of time to, to walk to the next to the next gate.

And I’ve got my black rucksack, which has got all my satellite comms equipment and my laptop. And I I go to get something out my bag and realize I picked up the wrong rucksack and I. Honestly, I T yeah, it’s the sudden panic that hit me. So then I suddenly start running back to the gate that I think I came out of because nobody ever, you know, remembers the gate that they came from.

And I think I was running probably like three, four minutes. Somebody shouted. And it was the, the kind of crew on the other side with somebody who’d picked my backup and, oh my God, thank God they’d noticed. And we swapped bags and he went to get his transit light somewhere else. And then I went back to get mine and I’m just like, oh, I remember messaging to my family.

And they were just like only pre [00:24:00] and I was like, I know I was like only me. I just. After that I was just, you know, holding onto my bag, like super tightly and just, yeah. Went to Santiago had to COVID test, stay there the night and then flew to Punta arenas. And, and then it was prep phase pretty much.

I’d given myself more than enough time to do that phase because I was worried that I’d get stuck with COVID. And then I just, I prepped everything. I prepped all of my food. I took all of the food out of its original packaging. I chopped everything down into small pieces. I wrote messages on every single food bag because I wanted this to be about more than me.

I was bringing all these people with me. I hadn’t met them but old people that had written on LinkedIn or Facebook or social media, and I wrote their names on the messages as well. So I had that with me kind of every day and, and then flew to. Bleach to Antarctica, to union glacier. And do you want, it’s getting that like, I mean, it’s amazing, like to be an [00:25:00] Antarctica, but I was, I was very much focused on getting started.

So this is, I mean, getting to Antarctica was a huge achievement for me. You know, I actually made it there to go and do this expedition and there weren’t many of us doing solo expeditions. You know, it was tough to get that. It really was. And I remember when I was, I stayed in union union glacier for about two days before I flew to my, to my start point at Hercules in that.

And that’s the moment I was kind of on my own. And, you know, like watch, watch the twin Otter fly away and that’s me and I was, I was ready to go, you know, I was excited to, to kind of get going. This is something like sad, you know, two and a half years of planning to get started. So at the start what was sort of the, one of the problems that you faced.

So in terms of problems that start, so it, I mean the sleds at its heaviest then so it’s, you know, you can kind of feel it as you, as you’re dragging it and there’s a, you start on like a steeper section. [00:26:00] But to be honest with you, I felt fresh, you know, so even, yes, it it’s a heavy sled. I felt fashion and I knew that I was expecting that.

So there weren’t, you know, surprises that. Probably the size of some of the streaky, which are like those WinShape ridges. Some of them, they were huge. But that was a little bit later in the, in the trip. And there were, the sections were mixed. So some sections, it felt like, you know, it was really dragging hard behind me.

And there were a few sections. I was a bit icier. I probably fell over more times than I thought I would, but I did think to myself, I thought, oh, I wonder if there’s like a Guinness book, world, Guinness world record for this amount of times you fall over on a trip like this. But so yeah, I fell more than I thought I would.

No, no serious injuries, thankfully that it became tougher probably after I passed the halfway point. Personally for me, those ridges got bigger. More [00:27:00] tired. It was getting colder and that’s when I feel like it. Yeah, it got more difficult than. When you’re sort of pushing your sledge for people who don’t know what Antarctica is, like, what is the sort of feelings around you?

What are you sort of experiencing you’re in, I mean, it’s, you know, this white desert Antarctica and it it’s absolutely stunning, but your, you don’t feel like you’re skiing towards anything. So you do a 360 and you can’t see. You know, anything that you’re going towards. And even though I know I’m getting towards the south pole, I can’t see the south pole which that was kind of mentally difficult and it’s, it’s not really smooth.

There’s all these kind of ridges and places. Some aren’t so big, some are really big and they’re basically shaped by, by the wind out there. There were one or two days where it was calm. Unbelievable. It was amazing. Like no wind at all. And I take my hood down. I’d be like, wow, it’s just an there’s [00:28:00] 24 hour daylight, you know?

So night and day looks exactly the same. There’s absolutely no change whatsoever. Mainly it was windy though. So generally I could just hear wind a lot of the time. And it was always headwind, no matter how much I prayed for it to be coming behind me. And one of the messages inside my tent said, remember to enjoy it, which was really important because, you know, you think of course you can enjoy it.

You’re in this incredible place. But when it was getting tough, it was really hard to remind myself that, you know, actually I’m in Antarctica, this is incredible. And, and getting to this point is amazing. When the sun was out, it was, it was really lovely. Even though it was windy, I could use my. I could kind of use the sun to navigate as well, which, which helped and, you know, kind of look, see my shadow, which it’s, it’s a small thing, but it’s a visual thing. [00:29:00]

Whereas just because it was 24 hour day, like the sun wasn’t always out, so sometimes it will be cloud. And sometimes it will be a whiteout which somebody else had said that a whiteout is like traveling in a marshmallow, which I think is a good way to look at it. And you just can’t see anything at all in front of you.

It’s just. Deep thick fog. And that was quite hard because, you know, you can’t see anything now. And I just be staring down at my compass and sometimes get a little bit motion sickness because I was just staring down. And I try and concentrate on different things there, like, you know, either looking at my skis am I had audio books to help me as well.

And I try and try and, you know, be you, you really are invested in the audio books you’re listening to. So it’s important to pick a good one. Yeah. And, and yeah, it it’s this, this huge white desert and you feel like you are, well, I felt, you know, that there wasn’t anybody [00:30:00] for miles and miles from me at a points that that was the case.

But even, you know, as I’ve still been dropped off, just especially when you could see you when the sun was out and you could see quite far and just see, yeah, nobody else, no sign of anybody. Else’s, it’s pretty impressive. To to think that like, I don’t, I can’t think of any of the time where I, I felt like I’m completely physically alone.

Was there a moment where it sort of all nearly fell apart on the trip you had 40 days, were there moments where you questioned yourself or questioned something? I did question myself, but I don’t think there was ever a point where I thought, well, I’m not going to do this. And I think there was in the training, but you know, it took me two and a half years to get to that star line.

And there was absolutely no chance I was giving up in that time. This was like the last leg of the journey. It’s like not going over that final. You know, to the finish line. [00:31:00] So there was nothing that was going to going to stop this part. But there were some tough, tough moments for sure. As it was getting cold.

And I think I was losing weight as well and feeling more tired as I went forward. And those history, yeah, I mentioned said those, those ridges in some sections, they were huge. And I remember looking in some paws and king, I don’t even know how I’m going to navigate around these. And I did fall in a few.

Luckily I didn’t hurt myself. So even though I went in my sled, didn’t follow me, which is good. Occasionally it came down slightly and I’d have to like pull it out in my arms. That, that could be quite frustrating. And I remember just at one point screening. Out. And I can even hear my scream because I just heard like the wind, you know, it was like lost in, in the wind and it, yeah, it, it was pretty difficult at points like that.

And that, I just had to break it down and [00:32:00] focus on taking literally Wampa in front of the other, you know, and really, not much past that because I couldn’t focus on anything more than that. It was too difficult. I was getting frustrated. And that wasn’t really helping. And so towards the end, as you’re getting closer to the finishing.

What was the sort of feelings running through your head as you’re pushing your sledge towards the south pole? I just wanted to get back. I think when I got there, it was relief. I did actually get here. It relieved to see something. And even though I’ve got my GPS, my compass, you know, I know that I’m getting closer, you can’t see anything so visually to see something is really special.

And to, yeah, to, to kind of. To get close to that. But a few days out I was, you know, I was excited to, to get finished. I, I was really craving a Coke kind of Coke. So looking forward to that, looking forward to that kind of Coke which I got when when I got to the [00:33:00] south pole, which was a yeah. Which is really, really nice and just.

Yeah, it was, you know, the weather, it was pretty cold, like really cold when, when I was at and I mean, these are estimates, cause I didn’t have anything with me, but I think around minus 50 with the wind chill, maybe a little bit cold on one or two of the days. But it, I was, and I was tired. You know, I could feel myself slowing right down.

So I think towards the end, the feeling. You know, almost there just keep going like it, you know, you are almost there. And because I had good weather the day that I came in, I could see the weather station about five, five miles out, which is just incredible because I could see some, it still took me ages to get there, but I could see something, you know, I was skiing towards dislike this gray color that I could see in the distance.

To like chat that it was ready. That was, I know that was definitely some, there is something in the, in the distance. So that was really exciting. [00:34:00] People who get to the south pole, always talk about the sort of feelings of you’ve been in this white desert for 40 days. And then you get to the south pole, which is sort of.

Like a building site. Is that how one would describe it? Yeah, I guess this there’s so much that, you know, I don’t, I don’t know if I expected there to be like all this stuff that there’s like this huge Antarctic research centers, a weather station has all these different, like tent set up. So yeah, no, I, I guess for me, I just you know, I remember.

During the morning or something, but obviously, you know, it looks the same as, as the day. And I saw people, it was incredible. And I didn’t really know what to do. I was like, hi. And and then they kind of showed me like the direction towards the south pole and then got that. And it was like, oh, wow, like I’m actually here.

Yeah. I don’t think I really, I think there was definitely a relief, but other than that, just, you know, I, I messaged my [00:35:00] partner really quickly to say that I was there. So he wasn’t waiting for my check-in call with Michelle’s doing every 24 hours. And yeah, it is. I guess it is a building site.

There’s so much that all of a sudden, which kind of like, oh, where’s this all come from? And it was, I have, for me, I think, you know, I was like, oh my God, I’m I, as a Punjabi girl from Darby, I got to the south pole, which I try and remind myself that because, you know, It almost becomes the norm. Like I’ve been that now.

It’s like, oh yeah, I’ve done that. It was a, you know, it was an incredible feeling, but it’s not an achievable or dislike faraway dream or anything like that. I got that. So I do need to remind myself of where I was a few years ago at a point where, you know, I never ever thought I’d do something like this.

It just never was in my ideas. I didn’t know anything about it. It wasn’t really my world. And was that sort of important to you to sorta because. [00:36:00] After sort of finished and you came home sort of worldwide press or leave you know, your story was incredible and, you know, coming back and sort of seeing all the press and all the coverage from it, how was the sort of feelings with.

It was, I think it was really amazing to see that some of the reactions to, to it and, you know, it was, there was some like really great reactions. Some probably, yeah, a little bit less than that, especially around kind of being a woman of color some of the comments. So, you know, a lot of the news outlets that first woman of color to do a solo expedition on, in an untidy.

And it was great to see all the positive comments. And, you know, when I got back to Chile and I was, I was no longer on airplane mode and I had wifi, I was going down the comments. And a lot of the comments I saw on mainstream media were things like why does it matter? Great story, but [00:37:00] ruined by the fact that you mentioned the color of her skin.

We are all equal. I think it took me a while to process these things. But to me, equality is not about ignoring our differences. So, you know, I was called British and an army officer, but you know, nobody, nobody picked up or had any issue with those differences at all. It was, it was the color of my skin or the fact that they’d use the term woman of color.

And for somebody who hasn’t always been proud of my background, I’m the kind of my skin I was so, so proud of. To be that representing, to show that actually no matter where we’re from, what we look like, we can go and achieve anything. At the end of the day, I was told many, many times, I don’t know, like a polar Explorer and not necessarily in a, in a horrible or malicious way, but it was still sad.

And, you know, and if, if people say things enough times, do you then start to believe it? And I wanted to show. You know, we can look like anything and go and do anything. And, [00:38:00] you know, there’s been young, young girls, who’ve dressed as a polar Explorer, you know, over the last few months and sent me those pictures as incredible you know, to, to show you that, you know, you can go and do anything to see somebody that looks like you.

Extremely powerful. So getting that message out was, was really great. And, you know, I’ve been speaking to, I think I’ve spoken to 17,000 young people since I’ve been back, you know, the message that I really wanted to get across was to me, it doesn’t matter if you have no interested interest in adventure or Antarctica, but just that whatever the boundaries are for you, like no boundary or barrier is too small to overcome.

Like you can. Overcome them, you know, and you can go and do anything. So, you know, don’t let anybody limit you, but also if you do have great, you know, a big ambition, great. And you can do it, but it does also take work to get there because I think we so often see. This end result. Right. We see it on social [00:39:00] media.

We see, you know, so yes, it, it, you know, is achievable, but that two and a half years was hard. So please work hard to get whatever it is you want. Well, you’ve sort of laid the foundations for future explorers in Everett, all over the world. Hopefully. And so, as you say, you sort of came back to this wave you probably were on a massive high coming back.

You’d finish. You’re probably exhausted. You had put two and a half years into this goal. What was the sort of, and you’ve probably almost are still on that sort of mode through giving your talk. So, cause I was going to say like, At the end of all, I’ve had many, many sort of people, Pella, explorers, adventurers, and at the end, there’s always a feeling of like, when you build yourself up to create, to achieve this goal, what was the sort of feelings when you came back after doing it?

[00:40:00] And he come down. If I’m honest with you at all it’s been pretty full on it’s been really busy with all the talks which I just finished on a, on Friday. And I I think. It is even though yes, the two and a half years that went into this, it was, I didn’t know anything about a south pole. I didn’t dream, you know, I didn’t, when I was younger, it wasn’t a dream that I always wanted to do this.

I wanted to do something big that would help inspire people. And you know, on the back of this. Adventure grant for women. They’ll be given the first grant this year. I’m also training for phase two of the expeditions. So this was it was actually not my aim to do this trip. I wanted to do a bigger trip.

My application got declined because I still didn’t have enough experience. So I created phase one and that’s what I just completed. So I think so I wanted to do a crossing. I solo unsupported crossing which you know, if I can get the [00:41:00] funding and everything, I’ll go as soon as I can really.

And I remember putting my application and when I got back from Greenland, because I knew that I didn’t have the experience. So I waited because I thought, well, I’ve done Greenland now. And and it was declined quite rightly by by Aly. And, and I feel. Again, I was a bit deflated, like, you know, get getting it rejected and I thought, well, what else can I do?

So you know, I knew that I could go to Antarctica and do this expedition 700 miles to the south pole. Without having been there before with the experience that I had so far or whether a little bit more, which I think. So, so that’s what I did. And so this was, you know, yes, a huge expedition in itself, but also gave me the training and everything I needed to go and do phase two, joined the likes of Colin Brady and Michael and yeah.

Yeah, exactly. And and. I guess for me, it was always the that [00:42:00] was my goal. As in, when I thought about what I wanted to do in Antarctica, that that was the goal. So as great as this trip was to be honest, it’s great. It’s like everything that came out of it was, you know, and it’s, it’s been, yeah, really kind of inspiring to me, for me to see as well.

This, this was always the trip that I was, I was hoping and aiming to do always over the last two and a half years. I’d say that’s, what’s driving you at the moment. Yeah, no, I think so. So I finished the talks see I’ve still got a full-time job. So so literally finished Hawks last week and back into my full-time role this week.

So just training around that and and. Hopefully putting, trying to put in a few more barriers this time sorry, Bobby. This is not what I meant today. A few more boundaries this time. Just in terms of for myself. So, you know what I can do because. Very very busy when I got back and I struggled with it [00:43:00] mentally.

Just do it, doing all of those things. And yet I think I realized I just needed a break. So giving myself time as well and giving myself a break and you know, for me, those boundaries would be involving, okay, well, I can’t, you know, this is what I can give. I can’t maybe come back and do back to back talks for this many months.

So just figuring those out. Very nice. Well, it’s been absolutely incredible sort of listening to the story and, you know, as you say, it’s an absolute inspiration for so many people all over the world. There’s a part of the show where we ask the same five questions to each guest each week with the first being, what does it mean to have purpose?

What does it mean to have Pappas? I think. How does it mean to have focus? I think that could be one of his personal to say for me, I, I want to, I personally, I want to see how much I can do. I [00:44:00] feel like getting to the south pole, I’m only just now realizing what I’m capable of, you know, and I’m 33. So imagine if you believe in yourself from a younger age I think to have purpose is to have.

Maybe a drive tool. It’s whatever that is. I don’t think it’s something I’ve always had. And I think at a time when you don’t have it, then, you know, getting involved in a lot of different things. That’s, that’s what I did were there for me that was joining the army reserves. It was trying different subjects.

At my access course to get into my uni course. So I don’t think you need to be hard on yourself if you know, you don’t necessarily know which way you need to go and also your purpose might change. That’s okay. As well. So that’s something I’ve definitely learned. Sorry if that roundabout this is the question.

What about your favorite. Oh, well, my favorite quote I have so many, so I [00:45:00] think that’s, yeah, that’s difficult one. I do think nothing is impossible when you believe in yourself. I do believe that and you know, no matter how big, no matter how small I do believe that we can achieve anything we want.

When we believe in ourselves, which again is difficult. And I know it’s not the easiest thing well, but we can, we can get. Very nice favorite travel book and why favorite travel book? So yeah, I used to when I was younger, I used to get a, the lonely planet for everywhere. I was going to just to like see different, you know, like a little bit about each place that I’m going to, but to be honest with you, I don’t.

Yeah. I like my audio books and the reason I like these audio books, I’m going to mention, I think is when I was listening to them on the ice and I was super invested in them. [00:46:00] So I think for that reason, I’m going to, I’m going to pick these ones. So I listened to a lot of south Asian authors when I was in Antarctica.

I listened to the good immigrant, the UK and the U S version. I listened to Mindy Kayling and Nita, Ronnie. And I loved having that voice with me for so many different reasons. You know, I wondered if they had ever been to Antarctica before to anywhere, you know, like that. And that for me is actually quite powerful.

So. As I’m going forward on my next trips as well. I want to take different voices with me, you know, voices that may not have been to those places before. Amazing. I’m why are these adventures important? Why the important to me personally, I wanted to push my own mental and physical boundaries, you know? And that’s the truth, I think.

Yes, I, I, of course I want to inspire people, but I do have that personal drive as well and see, you know, what I’m capable of, but also I. [00:47:00] I want to show others that they are also capable of anything and I really want to make the outdoors as inclusive as possible. And you know, I’m seeing looking into now different things I can do to, to make that happen.

An adventure could be anything, you know, an adventure for me, you’re still camping in the garden with my niece. You know, an adventure can be on any scale and the outdoors for me and those adventures, it’s a place without judgment, which I love. And I think it can be so good for your mental health.

And I almost want people to, and you know, it’s not, you have to do these adventures, but almost give people with the. The kind of chance to realize that it is an option for them. Th the outdoors is for everybody. And, you know, I think a lot of people can gain something from it. Yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more.

I was speaking to a friend last week and [00:48:00] they want to go on a sort of big adventure. And I said, well, and she said, well, go camping, go walking, take a backpack and go walking. And then she’s like, oh, you know, a campaign that’s like, You know, you just go home, walk 10 miles camp in a field, then pick stuff up in the morning, walk 10 miles that way and go camp at a field.

And then come back two days where you’re just walking by yourself. You don’t have to worry about things. And then by that it sort of breaks down the first time you do it. It’s terrifying. Like wherever you are in the world. I think like my first time wild campaign was in America and I’d been told all these horror stories about America.

And then when I did it, you slowly just sort of built and now viewed if you said, oh, well, we’re just going to go down there 20 miles and camp. I’d just be like, oh cool. And then you get to a point and you’re like, cool, this looks great. Pitch a tent in the little Woodlands or something, and that’s that’s sort of anyone’s adventure.

Anyone can have that. So I couldn’t agree with you [00:49:00] more in that respect. It can be, it can be anything. Right. And yeah, I think so many times people say to me, especially now, oh, I’m going to do this, but it’s Noah. It’s not, you know, like anything that you did, I’m like, don’t, you know, One company with such also, it took me a long time to get to this point.

This wasn’t just a, an idea that I had also, you know, adventures, whatever we want it to be. It can be anything, you know, it, you know, for me, it has been a lot of the time pushing outside of my comfort zone. The first time I went camping was pushing outside of my comfort zone. And so, you know, it’s, like I said, again, it’s so easy to see the end result and, you know rather than how people got to where they are, In your lifetime, where is the most memorable place you’ve been and why?

Well, so Antarctica. Yeah, Antarctica was obviously an incredible place. But. So, yeah, I was going to say India. Maybe because that’s a bit of home to me. So I [00:50:00] haven’t been in a while now. I’ve been about 10, 11 times in total. But yeah, it’s, it’s a little bit of home to me. And I guess even before I started doing adventures or anything like that, You know, cause I, I think of being on an adventure as a simple life, and I remember when I’d go back, it would be back to the simple life, you know?

Which I love, you know, you, you know, squat to go to the toilet, you would, you know what I mean, use a generator to like you know, wash yourself, like it just, yeah. So I think probably India, if I’m honest with you and somewhere that, you know, I want to go back, hopefully again, soon. And see people and also travel because India is huge and I have not kind of traveled much around.

I think there’s so many incredible places along the world, around the world. Obviously Antarctica is an amazing place. I think just in, in terms of yeah, where kind of my heart is at probably, yeah, probably I’d [00:51:00] say India as, as one of the top places in a sort of wild campaign. And the most basic form of existence can be some of the most enjoyable times, just out on like a mountain camping with the most insane view or sunset you sort of look back and such happy memories.

And well, I was going to say, you know, you’ve got these big plans for the future. How can people follow your story? Yeah, of course. So everything’s polar Preet which is the thing I came up with when I started planning this. So polar Prix is on Instagram, Facebook the website, which the website actually does say I’m still in Antarctica.

So I need to change the homepage because I am not. But everything is on there. And you know, I, I. Yeah. As, as much as I can really and try, hopefully I try and be as honest as I can about my experiences and how I’m feeling. Yeah, which isn’t always great. But [00:52:00] then I think to myself that if you’re feeling a certain way, Good to be honest about it, because there’s a lot of people that are probably feeling the same way you are and can relate to that.

And, you know, I want to, I want to be as honest and real as possible because you know, to show that I wasn’t always here and we all have these feelings. Yeah. I agree. Well, pre it’s been an absolutely pleasure to listen to your stories today and I cannot thank you enough for coming. Thanks very much. No, thank you for having me.

It’s a, yeah, it’s great to talk to you. We’ll be following your journey in the future and for part two. Thanks very much. Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed the show and don’t forget to subscribe and review the podcast. If you’re listening on apple, a massive thank you to those who reviewed it.

And I hope to see you next week for another fascinating tell of adventure, but until then have a great day wherever you are in the. And happy adventures.

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