(Newsdesk) Ranulph Fiennes has developed a case of frostbite, announced The Coldest Journey team. "The frostbite was sustained whilst Fiennes was making adjustments to one of his ski bindings which had become loose, and there was no failure of the binding. It was whilst making these adjustments that he briefly removed his glove," the team reported today.
Regarding Fiennes' injury, Dr Robert Lambert, the Ice Team doctor, said: "Ran has frostbite injuries to four fingers of his left hand, sustained during his usual ski training regime in Antarctica. As with all frostbite, it is still too early to determine the full extent of the injury; however treatment is progressing well, and Ran is bearing up with his usual fortitude and good cheer. Ran himself has made the very difficult decision not to continue with his attempt to ski across Antarctica in winter, a decision with which I concur. In the circumstances I think this is very wise. To continue skiing with this injury in these conditions would be to invite much more severe damage."
The team is working towards evacuating Fiennes from Antarctica while he remains in a caboose as the weather continues to be bad. "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."
Fiennes 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 team has established a supply depot on the Antarctic plateau. "This puts them in an excellent position to start the crossing as scheduled on 21st March," the press team says.
Ranulph Fiennes has already lost fingertips on his left hand on a North Pole attempt, which he had reportedly cut off with a saw after he had learned the time it would take the doctors to do it and of the costs.
The Coldest Journey team plan to start on March 21st, 2013 at Crown Bay, Queen Maud Land, near the Russian coastal Science base, Novolazareskaya and cross via the Geographic South Pole (90°S), down the Leverette Glacier to the Ross Ice Shelf and end six months later at Robert Scott's 1911-13 hut.
Ice Team: Ranulph Fiennes (co-leader & ice team - aborted), Richmond Dykes (mechanic), Rob Lambert (doctor), Ian Prickett (ice team), Brian Newham (traverse manager) and Spencer Smirl (mechanic). Biographies of extended team.
The South Pole winter stretches from March 21st to September 23rd. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth, -89,2 °C (-128 °F), was recorded at the Russian science station, Vostok, July 21st, 1983. Vostok; located at 78°27′51.92″S 106°50′14.38″E.
At the Geographic South Pole, 90°S, the sun disappears below the horizon for the polar night/winter at around the March equinox, March 20th, only to appear again above the horizon, around the September equinox, September 22nd.
A winter South Pole expedition has never been attempted before. Twice a winter North Pole ski and swim has been done. Both expeditions departed from Russia (Cape Arktichesky, a distance of 980 km in a straight line).
In 2006 the Norwegian and South African duo, Børge Ousland and Mike Horn, attempted the North Pole in Winter, unassisted, unsupported; starting January 22 and arrived at the North Pole March 23; after 61 days on the ice and only two days after sunrise. They pulled all their food, fuel and gear with them from the start.
The Russians, Matvey Shparo and Boris Smolin, started their expedition on December 22, 2007, the day of winter solstice, from the Arktichesky Cape – the northern point of the Zevernaya Zemlya Archipelago. They reached the NP on March 14, 2008, after 84 days of traveling and one week before the beginning of the polar day. They received one food, fuel and gear resupply by air.
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