Sir Ranulph Fiennes is to be evacuated from the Antarctic after suffering severe frostbite, it was announced on Monday.
The explorer is said to be "gutted" at having to pull out of the forthcoming expedition dubbed 'The Coldest Journey', although his five team-mates will still make the 2,000 mile trek in the hope of being the first to cross the region on foot during the winter.
The 68-year-old was injured after a fall while skiing during training at a base camp in Antarctica, the BBC reports. He apparently used his bare hands to fix a ski binding in temperatures of -30C.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes has sustained severe frostbite and will be evacuated from Antarctica
An official statement read: ,
"Right now the team is working towards evacuating Fiennes 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. This plan is currently being hampered due to a blizzard at their present location, which is making the first stage of the evacuation impossible. Untel there is a let up in the weather conditions, Fiennes will be unable to leave."
Expedition organisers are trying to raise $10million for the blindness charity Seeing Is Believing.
A spokesman said: "We regret to announce that Sir Ranulph Fiennes has developed a case of frostbite.
"The condition is such that he has very reluctantly decided with the support of the team doctor and in the interests of the success of the expedition and its associated aims, to withdraw from Antarctica while the possibility to do so still exists, before the onset of the Antarctic winter.
"This decision has not been taken lightly and it is, naturally, a huge disappointment to Fiennes and his colleagues.
"The remaining expedition members, under the experienced leadership of the traverse manager Brian Newham, have unanimously elected to continue with the winter crossing of Antarctica and will undertake the scientific and educational aspects of the project as originally planned, with its humanitarian benefits," the spokesman said. "This view is supported by the board of trustees.
"The expedition has reached the point where they can readily establish a supply depot on the Antarctic plateau.
"This puts them in an excellent position to start the crossing as scheduled on 21 March."
The spokesman added: "Sir Ranulph remains fully dedicated to the project.
"As soon as his injuries 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."
The trek is known as The Coldest Journey on Earth. No human being has managed to walk across Antarctica in winter.
The team will face some of the toughest conditions on earth - near permanent darkness and temperatures dropping close to minus 90C.
The expedition - from the Russian base of Novolazarevskaya to the Ross Sea - is expected to take six months.
The journey is to benefit Seeing is Believing, a charity which tackles avoidable blindness.
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