British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes may require surgery to remove part of two fingers on his left hand after suffering severe frostbite while training for his latest expedition.
The veteran adventurer, who is widely believed to be the world’s greatest living explorer, is the holder of several endurance records including being the first person to visit both the North and South Poles by surface means, and the first to completely cross Antarctica on foot.
In his latest feat the 68-year-old, who conquered Everest in 2009, had put together a team who would make the first ever winter crossing of Antarctica.
While the others would be using vehicles he had intended to be the only member of the team to brave temperatures of -80C on skis.
While testing out his equipment during a “white out,” where he had zero visibility, the bindings on his skis came lose forcing him to remove both his inner and outer mitts at -30C for around 20 minutes.
Flickr: The Coldest Journey
As he was finishing he noticed that his left hand had turned white at which point he said “it was a bit late to do anything about it.”
At this point he said his withdrawal from the expedition was “unavoidable” though he is not happy about it:
“I’m not good at crying over spilt milk or split fingers,” said Sir Ranulph. “But it is extremely frustrating. I started work on this expedition five years ago I have been working on it and nothing else, full time and unpaid, for five years.”
He said he will continue focus full time on helping the team who will go ahead without him.
The expedition has scientific and educational aims, as well as the intention to raise 10 million US dollars (7.65 million euros) for the Seeing is Believing charity, which aims to prevent and treat avoidable blindness.
This is not the first time the former British Army officer has been hit by frostbite, he was affected by it in 2000 during an attempt to make it solo and unsupported to the North Pole, forcing him to abandon the expedition.
On returning home he famously cut the affected parts off himself with a fretsaw.