Picture - File Photo , Wednesday 5th December 2007

**File Photo** * RANULPH FIENNES PULLS OUT OF ANTARCTIC CHALLENGE Famed explorer SIR RANULPH FIENNES has pulled out of a trek across Antarctica after he was struck down with a severe bout of frostbite. The 68-year-old cousin of acting siblings Ralph and Joseph Fiennes has been preparing to embark on the 2,000-mile (3,219 kilometre) adventure, dubbed the Coldest Journey On Earth, for blindness charity Seeing Is Believing by training at a base camp. Fiennes recently took a tumble while skiing and was forced to use his bare hands to fix a ski binding in temperatures of around minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) - and now he has been ruled out of the six-month challenge, which he was due to start on 21 March (13). An expedition spokesman is quoted by the Derbyshire Times publication as saying, "Ran has suffered an accident to his hand (sic) which effectively makes his continued participation in the expedition more of a liability than an asset. "He remains fully dedicated to the project and as soon as his injuries permit, he will continue to support The Coldest Journey by fundraising and promoting awareness of Seeing is Believing." A statement from the charity reads, "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 bitter blow to Fiennes and his colleagues." However, the star's evacuation from the area is being delayed because of bad weather. The charity's statement continues, "This plan is currently being hampered due to a blizzard at their present location which is making the first stage of the evacuation impossible. Until there is a let up in the weather conditions, Fiennes will be unable to leave." Fiennes previously lost several fingers to frostbite duri (1 Picture)


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