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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Ranulph Fiennes pulls out of The Coldest Journey

Finning expedition team

Finning confirm expedition to continue following team leader’s decision to leave the Antarctic

FOLLOWING the development of a debilitating case of frostbite, Sir Ranulph Fiennes has reluctantly decided to withdraw from The Coldest Journey winter expedition across Antarctica.

It is understood the 68-year-old explorer and expedition leader (pictured on the right) developed severe frostbite after using his bare hands to fix a ski binding in temperatures of around –30°C.

Commenting on the news, Finning UK and Ireland managing director Neil Dickinson said: ‘We have been in contact with Sir Ranulph and our Finning engineers, stressing how important it is to maintain the safety of each member of the team throughout the expedition.

‘Although very sad news for Sir Ranulph and the rest of the team, the important goals of the expedition itself remain – to perform important scientific research, to test the ability to operate machinery in the harshest of conditions and to raise a great deal of money and awareness for the ‘Seeing is Believing’ charity.

‘I’m sure Sir Ranulph will continue to play an important leading role in the expedition, even from afar, and that all of the work he has already done with the team, and in particular our engineers, will be of great value as the expedition moves forward.

‘Although a setback for everyone, it is important to focus on the positive work that is still to be done and to recognize that the health, well-being and safety of everyone on the expedition team is our first priority.’

At the time of writing the team was working towards evacuating Sir Ranulph from Antarctica. He will be transported by skidoo to the Princess Elisabeth Station about 70km away from his current position, from where he will be flown to Novo to get a connecting flight to Cape Town.

The five remaining expedition members, including Finning engineers Richmond Dykes and Spencer Smirl, are all in good health and have already unanimously elected to continue with the expedition, under the leadership of traverse manager Brian Newham.

The team has already reached the point where it can readily establish a supply depot on the Antarctic plateau, which should allow the crossing to start as scheduled on 21 March.

As soon as the injuries sustained by Sir Ranulph Fiennes permit, he will continue to support The Coldest Journey by fundraising and promoting awareness of Seeing is Believing, the expedition’s chosen charity, which is committed to eradicating preventable blindness in the developing world.

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