The Coldest Journey on Earth
6 December 2012
Veteran explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, will take on one of the last remaining polar challenges by attempting to cross Antarctica in winter, and raise $10 million for Seeing is Believing with Standard Chartered's dollar for dollar matching.
The six-month expedition next year is being called 'The Coldest Journey', and will see the team of six crossing nearly 4,000 kilometres, mostly in complete darkness in temperatures as low as -90°C.
About the Antarctic traverse
On 6 December 2012, The Coldest Journey began. HRH Prince of Wales, who is Royal Patron of the expedition, visited the South African research ship 'SA Agulhas', at her River Thames mooring to wish the crew luck and give the expedition a Royal send-off.
The Prince told the explorers: "I can only wish you God speed and every possible good fortune in this wonderful, dotty adventure. I'm somebody who greatly admires the kind of intrepid explorer activity taken by Ran and others."
The team will set out from London on the SA Agulhas, bound for Antarctica. On 21 March 2013, they will begin the 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.
Previously, the furthest any expedition has ever ventured into Antarctica during the winter is 60 miles. The team will have to be entirely self-sufficient. There will be no search and rescue facility available, as aircrafts cannot penetrate inland during winter due to darkness and risk of fuel freezing.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes said: “This will be my greatest challenge to date. Britain and the Commonwealth have 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."
Sir Ranulph joins the fight against avoidable blindness
The exploration team intends to raise $5 million for Seeing is Believing (SiB)– a global initiative led by Standard Chartered and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to tackle avoidable blindness in developing countries.
Every dollar raised is matched by Standard Chartered, doubling the impact SiB can make on the ground. Since its launch in 2003, the programme has reached over 28 million people.
Sir Ranulph, said: “I have been on some amazing expeditions and seen many of the beautiful and unique sights the world has to offer. When I discovered Seeing is Believing, what it stood for, and understood how easily avoidable blindness could be prevented it inspired me and my colleagues to undertake this challenge. It is a fantastic cause and I would urge everyone who follows our progress to donate to it.”