Monday 19 March 2018

Ranulph Fiennes pulls out of 'coldest journey on earth' due to frostbite

68-year-old Fiennes was injured after a fall while skiing during training at a base camp in Antarctica
68-year-old Fiennes was injured after a fall while skiing during training at a base camp in Antarctica
Fiennes has pulled out of an expedition across Antarctica in winter because of severe frostbite

Alice Philipson

RANULPH Fiennes has been forced to pull out of a 2,000-mile trek across Antarctica, known as 'the coldest journey on earth', after suffering severe frostbite

The explorer, 68, and his team were attempting to become the first human beings to walk across the frozen land in winter.

But during a training exercise at a base camp in Antarctica, Fiennes suffered a fall and attempted to fix a broken ski binding in -30C temperatures using his bare hands.

He is now stuck in the freezing temperatures as his evacuation to South Africa is being hampered by blizzard conditions.

His team are raising money for Seeing is Believing, a charity which tackles avoidable blindness.

In a statement, the charity said: "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.

"This decision has not been taken lightly and it is, naturally, a bitter blow to Fiennes and his colleagues."

Fiennes will be transported by skidoo to the Princess Elisabeth Station, approximately 70km away from his current location. From there he will fly to Novo and then on to Cape Town.

However, his rescue is currently being hampered by the weather.

"This plan is currently being hampered due to a blizzard at their present location which is making the first stage of the evacuation impossible. Until there is a let up in the weather conditions, Fiennes will be unable to leave," the charity's statement said.

The team will face some of the harshest conditions on earth as they continue their journey. Temperatures can drop close to -90Cand there is near permanent darkness.

The trek is due to begin on 21 March, the start of winter in Antarctica, and is expected to take six months.

In 2009 Fiennes became the oldest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest, aged 65.

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