Frostbite Halts Coldest Journey Expedition's Leader

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has frostbite on four fingers of his left hand and will be evacuated from Antarctica, but the remaining team plans to continue trying to achieve a winter crossing.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has elected to leave the expedition called The Coldest Journey, which is an unprecedented attempt to traverse Antarctica during its winter. Fiennes, the expedition's leader, has frostbite injuries on four fingers of his left hand and will be evacuated from Antarctica. The rest of the team plans to continue trying to achieve a winter crossing beginning March 21, according to messages posted on the expedition's website.

The Feb. 26 post says bad weather continued at the expedition's base camp, and the team hoped to begin the 700-kilometer evacuation on Feb. 27. It quoted Dr. Robert Lambert, the Ice Team doctor: "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."

He sustained the injury when he briefly removed his glove to adjust a ski binding that had come loose, according to the post.

The remaining expedition members are being led by Traverse Manager Brian Newham. The two goals of the expedition are scientific research and to raise at least $10 million for Seeing is Believing, a UK charity that is trying to eliminate preventable blindness around the world. It is a collaboration between Standard Chartered Bank, which matches every dollar raised by Seeing is Believing, and the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness.

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