LONDON: A British Army officer has broken the world record for the longest solo and unsupported polar expedition by a woman.
Preet Chandi, known as Polar Preet, first made history trekking to the South Pole in 2021.
The 33-year-old has so far travelled 868 miles (1,397 km) across Antarctica in temperatures as cold as -50C (-58F).
The previous female record was 858 miles (1,381 km), skied by Anja Blacha in 2020.
However, Capt Chandi, from Sinfin in Derby, did not complete her original aim of becoming the first woman to cross Antarctica solo and unsupported.
She set off from Hercules Inlet in November and hoped to reach Reedy Glacier within 75 days.
An online blog, which she has kept along the way, was last updated on Thursday.
She reported being about 30 nautical miles away from her pick-up point.
Capt Chandi, a physiotherapist at a regional rehabilitation unit in Buckinghamshire but currently on leave, said: “I’m pretty gutted that I don’t 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.”
Despite extreme cold and high winds, she said her spirits were being kept up by listening to recorded messages from friends and family.
Her challenge had been formally backed by the Princess of Wales, who wished her good luck with her expedition in a phone call.
Capt Chandi was thought to have become the first woman of colour to embark on a solo expedition on the continent when she completed a 700-mile (1,126km) ski to the South Pole in January last year, a challenge she finished in 40 days, seven hours and three minutes – the third-fastest woman to complete the feat.
She has been congratulated for her latest exploits by the University of Derby, which awarded her an honorary degree last year.
Prof Kathryn Mitchell, vice-chancellor of the university, said: “We are delighted to hear about Captain Chandi’s record-breaking achievement.
“It was a privilege to award her an honorary degree at the University of Derby last year; she is an inspirational role model for our students, demonstrating how determination and commitment reap rewards.”
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has raised more than £10,000, half of which will go to an “adventure grant” for females conducting “unique challenges”, while the other will go towards Capt Chandi’s next expedition.