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Due To Frostbite Ranulph Fiennes Ends Vinson Massif Climb

Ranulph Fiennes Unable to Continue Expedition After Developing Frostbite

The 68-year-old explorer hoped to become the first person to cross the frozen continent in winter later this year, but pulled out of the journey after suffering the injury during training.

A spokesman for the expedition, dubbed the "Coldest Journey on Earth", said Ranulph Fiennes had fallen while skiing in a blizzard and attempted to fix his binding with his bare hands.

His five team-mates are attempting to extract him to South Africa, but have agreed to embark on the 2,000-mile without him, beginning on March 21.

Tony Medniuk of the Coldest Journey expedition told the BBC: "In seeking to reattach his binding he felt that he couldn't get it on and had to take his glove off in very cold conditions and exposed his hand to snow and as a consequence he has contracted frostbite.

"After five years of preparation, a small slip like this and a few moments can undermine the most meticulous preparation."
The team will attempt to transport Fiennes 43 miles by skidoo to the Princess Elisabeth Station, from where he can be flown to Cape Town via the Antarctic Novo airbase, but are unable to leave until the current blizzard subsides.

The veteran explorer has experience of frostbite from his previous expeditions, losing the top third of all the fingers on his left hand during an expedition to the North Pole in 2000.

On his return to Britain, he removed his fingertips himself using a fretsaw after reportedly balking at the cost and time it would take doctors to amputate them.

Hannah McKeand, a polar guide who has trekked to the South Pole a world record six times, said frostbite is now extremely rare on polar voyages but might occur if someone had lost core body temperature, for example after not eating enough.

Taking precautions against the injury is "absolutely basic Antarctic 101", but Ranulph Fiennes' previous frostbite would have made him more vulnerable to a second bout, she told the Telegraph.
She said: "I take my gloves off to do things all the time. If there is something like a broken ski binding or a really fiddly job you really need your bare hands to do, experience tells us you are going to be able to do that.

"The problem with Fiennes is he has suffered severe frostbite before, and the moment you have suffered any cold injury of that nature you are susceptible to it in those digits for the rest of your life."

But his attempt to cross the continent during its winter months was to be his most daunting challenge, in conditions of almost permanent darkness and temperatures as low as -90C.  The team has been outfitted with high-tech equipment that prompted comparisons to the preparations, including special breathing apparatus. The expedition will use 20-ton tractors to transport sledges with mounted living quarters and fuel that is designed not to freeze in the extreme temperatures.

The furthest anyone has ventured into Antarctica during its coldest season until now was a 60-mile  expedition in the early 20th century.

A spokesman said Fiennes would continue to support Seeing is Believing, the expedition's chosen charity.

Murder on Vinson Massif explores the same conditions Ranulph Fiennes and his team are experiencing on the mountain.  In the book, hero Scott Devlon finds himself in Antarctica, complelled to join the expedition about to attempt an unprecedented winter climb of Vinson Massif, the highest mountain on the world's most inhospitable continent in order to catch a killer. 

Murder and treachery abound as the high tech expedition braves the Antarctic night with temperatures falling below minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Old friends and fresh enemies die as Scott seeks the lost idols and in the end all perish save two.

For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE 
To order your copy of Murder on Vinson Massif, CLICK HERE
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