Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Fiennes out of Antarctic adventure

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has pulled out of the Coldest Journey expedition across Antarctica due to severe frostbite

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has pulled out of an expedition across Antarctica in winter because of frostbite.

The 68-year-old was injured after a fall while skiing during training at a base camp in Antarctica.

He developed frostbite after using his bare hands to fix a ski binding in temperatures of around minus 30C.

Sir Ranulph will now leave the Coldest Journey expedition but organisers said his evacuation to South Africa was being hampered by blizzard conditions. Despite the Somerset-based explorer's withdrawal his team-mates will continue with the 2,000-mile (3,219km) trek.

A spokesman said: "We regret to announce that Sir Ranulph Fiennes has developed a case of frostbite.

"The condition is such that he has very reluctantly decided with the support of the team doctor and in the interests of the success of the expedition and its associated aims, to withdraw from Antarctica while the possibility to do so still exists, before the onset of the Antarctic winter."

The team is attempting to evacuate Sir Ranulph by transporting him by skidoo to the Princess Elisabeth Station, about 43 miles (70km) away from his current position. From there he will be flown to Novo to get a connecting flight to Cape Town.

The spokesman said: "The remaining expedition members, under the experienced leadership of the traverse manager Brian Newham, have unanimously elected to continue with the winter crossing of Antarctica and will undertake the scientific and educational aspects of the project as originally planned."

The trek is known as The Coldest Journey on Earth. No human being has managed to walk across Antarctica in winter. The team will face some of the toughest conditions on earth - near permanent darkness and temperatures dropping close to minus 90C.

The expedition - from the Russian base of Novolazarevskaya to the Ross Sea - is expected to take six months. The journey is to benefit Seeing is Believing, a charity which tackles avoidable blindness.

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