Frostbitten Sir Ranulph Fiennes leaves Antarctic trip

By Rob Virtue on February 27, 2013 3:56 PM |


It was three months ago Sir Ranulph Fiennes was in Canary Wharf completing his preparations for his latest journey. Back then he said there was a 50 per cent chance of success.

On Wednesday it as all over for the 68-year-old who left Antarctica six months ahead of schedule after developing frostbite in his fingers. 

While his team continues the expedition, which is an attempt to be the first to cross the region during its harsh winter months, they will be without Sir Ranulph.

In December last year the great explorer was working in a warehouse at Wood Wharf where he and colleagues were packing for the journey.

Then he told The Wharf why he was taking on the 2,000 mile trek despite the public being split over whether the risks - with temperatures ranging from -30C to -90C - were too high.

"We concentrate on things that haven't been done before which means we can't always learn the lessons of previous trips," he said.

"And with that there's always the danger of critical press with people saying we shouldn't do it as it's too unpredictable.

"But I say if that was the case the US would never have landed on the moon."

The ship SA Agulhas then departed for Antarctica with the equipment and the team following shortly after.

They were due to complete the polar expedition around September.

However, on Monday a statement was released by the group, announcing the bad news but pledging the trek would go on.

"Sir Ranulph's departure from the ice will be the first of no doubt many trials the ice team will have to surmount in coming months if they are to succeed in this epic challenge," it said.

"They are a strong and experienced group, and those of us not on the ice have every faith that they will persevere regardless, and will make Ran and everybody else very proud of them."

On Wednesday afternoon Sir Ranulph was transported to a Belgian Antartic base by ground, before being flown to Cape Town, South Africa.