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February 28, 2013

British Explorer Ranulph Fiennes pulls out from Antartic expedition after suffering frostbite

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A file photo of Ranulph Fiennes.
Image: B Milnes.

After suffering severe frostbite the British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has decided to pull out from The Coldest Journey expedition across the Antarctica. The 68-year-old contracted frostbite after becoming injured whilst training at a base camp in Antarctica. He fell over and had to use his bare hands to fix a ski in temperatures of -30C.

He is now on his way to Cape Town after several days of poor blizzard conditions halted his evacuation. Despite his withdrawal, the expedition is to continue without him and his fellow team members are to trek the 2,000 miles (3,219km) across Antarctica from Novolazarevskaya Station to the Ross Sea on March 21, the winter solstice and the first day of winter, taking six months. The team successfully travelled approximately 70km to transport him by snowmobile to the Princess Elisabeth Station. He is now to be flown on to Novo for a flight to Cape Town.

Organisers of The Coldest Journey expedition said in a statement, “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”.

Tony Medniuk, an organiser from the expedition, told the BBC, “After five years of preparation, a small slip like this and a few moments can undermine the most meticulous preparation”. Ian Prickett, a member of the team, said on Twitter “Sir Ran is leaving but we will carry on.”.

The team is hoping to raise $US 10 million for Seeing is Believing, a charity which aims to tackle avoidable blindness. No human being has ever walked across Antarctica during the winter and the expedition team are bracing themselves for near permanent darkness and piercing temperatures of -90C.

Fiennes also suffered from frostbite whilst on an expedition to the North Pole in 2000 and, as a result, had to amputate the fingers on his left hand.

Sir Ranulph has been described by Guinness World Records as the world’s greatest living explorer. In the past he became the first person to reach both the North and South Pole by surface as well as the oldest Briton to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 2009 at the age of 65. Another British explorer, Captain Scott, died one hundred years ago on his expedition after being caught out by the start of the southern winter solstice.

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg The Coldest Journey


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