On 6 December 2012, on board the expedition’s South African ice-strengthened research ship, ‘SA Agulhas’, the expedition team – led by Sir Ranulph – will leave London , bound for Antarctica. Their aim is to complete ‘The Coldest Journey’ – the first-ever trans-Antarctic winter expedition. The Coldest Journey will also attempt to raise USD10 million for Seeing is Believing, a global charitable initiative to fight avoidable blindness. During their sea voyage, the team will undertake a number of scientific tasks to provide unique data on marine life, oceanography and meteorology. Using the very latest technological innovations, this epoch-making journey will pave the way for a new dawn in Antarctic, year-round exploration.
On 21 March 2013, the equinox, the six expedition members will begin a six month journey to reach the Ross Sea. Their route from the Russian base of Novolazareskaya (‘Novo’) to Captain Scott’s base at McMurdo Sound – via the South Pole – will test the limits of human endurance. During this six month period the expedition team will travel nearly 4,000 kilometres, mostly in complete darkness in temperatures as low as -90°C. The expedition team will have to be entirely self-sufficient and there will be no search and rescue facility available, as aircraft cannot penetrate inland during winter, due to darkness and risk of fuel freezing.
Previously, the furthest any expedition has ever ventured into Antarctica during the winter is 60 miles. On this forthcoming journey, Sir Ranulph and his team will aim to cover 2,000 miles in six months, crossing the polar plateau at an average height of 10,000ft above sea level.
With a winter crossing of the Arctic having recently been completed by a Norwegian expedition, this is the first ever attempt at an Antarctic winter crossing and one of the last remaining polar challenges.
“It is a unique opportunity to carry out a number of scientific tasks in the extreme polar environment, which will make a significant contribution to our understanding of the true effects of global warming on the Antarctic continent.”
It has never been attempted before, but they have the right man leading them, here are some of his achievements to date:
First to reach both Poles (with Charles Burton).
First to cross Antarctic and Arctic Ocean (with Charles Burton).
First to circumnavigate the world along its polar axis (with Charles Burton). 'This 3 year, 52 000 mile odyssey took intricate planning, 1900 sponsors, a 52 person team to handle, complex communications, meticulous planning and iron determination mixed with flexibility. The circumnavigation has never been successfully repeated.
Led the first hovercraft expedition up the longest river in the world (the Nile) in 1968/1969.
Achieved world record for unsupported northerly polar travel in 1990.
Led the team that discovered the lost city of Ubar on the Yemeni border in 1992 (after seven previous search expeditions over a 26 year period).
Achieved world first in 1992/1993 by completing the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic Continent (with Mike Stroud). This was the longest unsupported polar journey in history.
In 2003, only 3½ months after a massive heart attack, 3 day coma and double bypass, Ranulph Fiennes (with Mike Stroud) achieved the first 7x7x7 (Seven marathons in seven consecutive days on all seven continents).
March 2005, climbed Everest (Tibet-side) to within 300m of summit raising £2 million for the British Heart Foundations new research MRI scanner.
March 2007, Sir Ranulph climbed the North Face of the Eiger (with Kenton Cool and Ian Parnell) and raised £1.8 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care's Delivering Choice Programme
Winner of ITV Greatest Britons 2007 Sport Award (beating the 2 other main nominees Lewis Hamilton and Joe Calzaghe)
May 2008, climbed Everest (Nepal-side) to within 400m from summit raising £2.5m for Marie Curie Cancer Care Delivering Choice Programme
Marie Curie 2008 ‘Above and Beyond Award’ Winner
Successfully summitted Everest May 2009 with Thundu Sherpa making a total for Marie Curie of over £6.2m. The oldest Briton ever to summit
Of the Antarctic traverse, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Expedition Leader of The Coldest Journey, said: “This will be my greatest challenge to date. We will stretch the limits of human endurance. Britain and the Commonwealth has a strong heritage of exploration, from Captain Cook 300 years ago to the present day. As such, it is fitting that a Commonwealth team should be the first to fulfil this last great polar expedition.
You can follow this attempt here: