UK & World News
Sir Ranulph Fiennes Returns From Antarctica
Sir Ranulph Fiennes may require surgery on two of his fingers after suffering severe frostbite during training for a trek across Antarctica.
The British explorer was forced to pull out of The Coldest Journey - a six-month trip that is due to start later this month - and spoke of his disappointment at leaving his team-mates behind.
"There's no point crying over spilt milk or split fingers but it's extremely frustrating," he said. "I've been working on this expedition and nothing else for five years."
A surgeon has told Sir Ranulph that while two of the fingers on his left hand "definitely would not require surgery", the others may need to be operated on.
The 68-year-old insisted his withdrawal was "unavoidable" and said his attention is now focussed on his fellow explorers, who are hoping to become the first people to make the 2,000-mile (3,219km) across Antarctica during winter.
"The team are brilliant," he added. "I'm very pleased and proud of them ... everything's on schedule."
Sir Ranulph developed frostbite after he had an accident while skiing and attempted to repair his ski bindings in temperatures as low as -33C (-27F).
Speaking at a press conference at Heathrow Airport, he said: "I tried fixing them with my big over-gloves on but I couldn't do a thing. You couldn't even peel a banana with those on. So I took off my inner mitts in order to be able to do the bindings up.
"People will say, 'surely you know you musn't take your mitts off completely?' But if it didn't, I'd have sat there, gone nowhere and died of cold. It's just one of those things."
Sir Ranulph had a double heart bypass in 2003 and suffered a heart attack two years later as he came agonisingly close to the summit of Mount Everest.
He became the oldest Briton to reach the top in 2009, when he completed the trek on his third attempt, aged 65.