Sir Ranulph Fiennes announced today that he will have to withdraw from his attempt to cross the Antarctic continent in winter.
His team, however, will press on with their journey.
From the team: "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. This decision has not been taken lightly and it is, naturally, a huge disappointment to Fiennes and his colleagues.
“Right now the team is working towards evacuating Fiennes from Antarctica. He will be transported by skidoo to the Princess Elisabeth Station about 70km away from his current position, from where he will be flown to Novo to get a connecting flight to Cape Town. 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 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, with its humanitarian benefits. This view is supported by the board of trustees.
“The expedition has reached the point where they can readily establish a supply depot on the Antarctic plateau. This puts them in an excellent position to start the crossing as scheduled on 21st March.
“Sir Ranulph remains fully dedicated to the project. As soon as his injuries permit, he will continue to support The Coldest Journey by fundraising and promoting awareness of Seeing is Believing, the expedition’s chosen charity, which is committed to eradicating preventable blindness in the developing world.”
The exploration team intends to raise USD5 million for Seeing is Believing (SiB) – a global initiative led by Standard Chartered and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to tackle avoidable blindness in developing countries.
Every dollar raised is matched by Standard Chartered, doubling the impact SiB can make on the ground. Since its launch in 2003, the programme has reached over 28 million people.
Sir Ranulph said: “I have been on some amazing expeditions and seen many of the beautiful and unique sights the world has to offer. When I discovered Seeing is Believing, what it stood for, and understood how easily avoidable blindness could be prevented it inspired me and my colleagues to undertake this challenge. It is a fantastic cause and I would urge everyone who follows our progress to donate to it.”