Sir Ranulph Fiennes talks of frostbite hell which forced him to pull out of Coldest Journey expedition
Westcountry explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has today revealed his "frustration" after frostbite forced him to drop out of an ambitious expedition across Antarctica.
The 68-year-old who lives on Exmoor was training at a base camp in Antarctica when he became injured after a fall while skiing.
He then developed frostbite after taking off his outer gloves to fix a ski binding in temperatures of around minus 33C (minus 27.4F).
It has forced Sir Ranulph to quit the Coldest Journey expedition which has taken five years of planning.
BRAND NEW FORD B-MAX ZETEC 1.0 ECOBOOST FOR ONLY £7685*View details
DRIVE AWAY A BRAND NEW FORD B-MAX ZETEC FOR ONLY £7685.
1.0 100PS Manual
Electric Windows & Mirrors
Quickclear Heated Windscreen
15" Alloy Wheels
Bluetooth with Ford Sync
*Drive away from only £7685 and then pay nothing for 24 months!
Contact: 01626 240583
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
Sir Ranulph says he will continue to support the project through fundraising.
After arriving back in UK this morning, the explorer told a press conference at a hotel at Heathrow Airport: “I’m on pills at the moment.
“The vascular surgeon I saw yesterday said that, in his opinion – he wasn't sure – two of the fingers would not require surgery and two of the fingers may require surgery.”
Sir Ranulph's team-mates will continue with the 2,000-mile (3,219km) trek, which they are expected to embark on later this month.
Sir Ranulph continued: “You could not put a better team together than that lot.
“I’m very pleased with and proud of the team in charge of the crossing.
“Everything is going totally on schedule as of today.”
The suspected onset of diabetes may have also been an underlying cause of frostbite that forced Sir Ranulph to pull out of the gruelling expedition.
While he considered the frostbite "a total mystery", an earlier annual medical check-up back in the UK had indicated that he "was on the verge... of type-two diabetes".
A South African vascular surgeon, examining his damaged left hand this week, had, he said, "suggested that if that's a recent change in my bodily system it" could have gone for any area in my body that was susceptible to circulation changes".
Further tests will be required back in the UK to confirm the theory.
In 2003 Sir Ranulph had a double heart bypass and suffered a heart attack two years later as he came agonisingly close to the summit of Mount Everest.
He finally reached the top in 2009 on his third attempt, becoming the oldest Briton to do so at 65 years of age.