Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has been forced to abandon his most dangerous adventure yet because of severe frostbite.
The 68-year-old, from Exford in Somerset, was injured after a fall while skiing during training at a base camp in Antarctica.
The adventurer, known as “Ran” was attempting to make the world’s first Antarctic winter crossing, a 2,000-mile journey with little prospect of rescue.
Sir Ranulph, who lost the fingers on his left hand during an unaided attempt to reach the North Pole in 2000, used his bare hands to fix a ski binding in temperatures around -30C.
Tony Medniuk from the “Coldest Journey” expedition said Sir Ranulph had been practising his skiing in white-out conditions when he fell.
“In seeking to re-attach his binding he felt that he couldn’t get it on and had to take his glove off in very cold conditions and exposed his hand to snow and as a consequence he has contracted frostbite,” he told the BBC.
Sir Ranulph, who is awaiting an evacuation to South Africa which is being hampered by blizzard conditions, is said to be “gutted”.
The expedition team are attempting to raise $10 million (£6.15m) for the Seeing Is Believing blindness charity.
The intrepid explorer, who at the age of 65 climbed to the summit of Mount Everest, said he was under no illusions about the daunting task when he left Cape Town last month.
“The conditions we will face may be nightmarish, they may from time to time be show-stoppers,” Sir Ranulph said at the time.
“Steel and rubber may crack up. So may some of us.”
The trek across Antarctica in winter, a feat no human being has managed, will present tough conditions – 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 team, who intend to continue, are attempting to evacuate Sir Ranulph by transporting him by skidoo to the Belgian Princess Elisabeth Station, about 70km away from his current position.
From there he will be flown to Novo then take a connecting flight to Cape Town.