Sir Rannulph drops out, but expedition goes on

Anton Bowring
Anton Bowring preparing for The Coldest Journey Photo:

Sir Rannulph Fiennes has just had to withdraw from the first ever trek across the Antartic during winter because of frost bite.

But despite that bad news, the charity trek is still going ahead. One of the organisers is Anton Bowring from Saxmundham in Suffolk. He one of the brains behind the expedition called - The Coldest Journey.

It's the first ever crossing of Antartcia in winter, the average temperature is well below minus 60C.

It'll take nine months to cross the plateau which is 11,000 feet above sea level.

Sir Rannulph was going to ski, but he was to be accompanied by fully support teams, two specially-adapted bulldozers pulling 80 tonnes of equipment.

The trip will be in virtual darkness - fitting then that a lot of it to raise six million pounds for a charity called Seeing is Believing which aims to erradicate preventable blindness in the developing world.

Anton has spent five years working on this. His job was to get sponsors on board but more importantly to find a ship to carry the 80 tonnes of equipment that are needed to the Antartcic. The team on the ice sheet have enough supplies to last them a year.

Anton knows the disappointment Sir Rannulph must be feeling. Whilst preparing for this trek in Sweden, he developped frost bite himself.

"Your fingers tend to hurt when it's cold, that is fairly normal. When you get frost bite, your fingers dont hurt and suddenly you think 'I can't feel my fingers' and it's too late"

– Anton Bowring
Frost bite
Anton Bowring's frost bite

That's what happened to Sir Ranulph, he only took his glove off for a moment to adjust one of this skis and that ended while th team were still in their preparation phase.

He's due to leave in the next couple of days to promote the charity work they're doing. However, the expedition goes on. The team sets off on March 21st - the official start of the Antarctic winter.