26 Feb 2013

Fiennes out of Antarctic trek

11:29 am on 26 February 2013

British adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has pulled out of a mid-winter trek across Antarctica after developing frostbite.

The 3000km journey is due to start next month, but Fiennes, 68, was injured after a fall while skiing during training at a base camp.

AAP reports he developed frostbite after using his bare hands to fix a ski binding in temperatures of around minus 30.

"This decision has not been taken lightly and it is, naturally, a huge disappointment to Fiennes and his colleagues," an expedition spokesman said.

Fiennes previously lost the tips of the fingers on his left hand to frostbite following a trip to the North Pole. He reportedly removed them himself with a fretsaw after learning of the cost and time it would take doctors to do it.

The expedition from the Russian base of Novolazarevskaya to the Ross Sea is expected to take six months in near-permanent darkness and temperatures dropping of almost minus 90C.

His remaining five teammates will continue with the 3219km trek, led by traverse manager Brian Newham.

They are due to leave on 21 March, followed by two 20-tonne bulldozers dragging 140 tonnes of supplies.

The trek is known as The Coldest Journey on Earth. No human being has managed to walk across Antarctica in winter.

The journey is to benefit Seeing is Believing, a charity which tackles blindness, and aims to raise $US10 million ($A9.75 million).

Efforts to evacuate Fiennes to South Africa are being hampered by blizzard conditions. The team is trying to evacuate him by skidoo to the Princess Elisabeth Station and then to Cape Town.