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Bid to cross Antarctic in winter a trip into 'unknown'

Published on Jan 7, 2013 6:05 AM
Explorers Sir Ranulph Fiennes (left) and Anton Bowring talk to journalists on Jan 6, 2013 in Cape Town. Fiennes is leading a team of explorers willing to succeed in the last great polar challenge: crossing Antarctica in winter. Their attempt aims at raising US$10 million for Seeing is Believing, an organisation tackling avoidable blindness. The challenge will take six months - mostly in complete darkness - for more than 2,000 miles. In total, the team will spend an estimated 273 days on the ice, and once under way, travel at an average of 35km per day. -- PHOTO : AFP

CAPE TOWN (AFP) - Adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes said on Sunday his bid for the world's first Antarctic winter crossing, with no option of rescue, would be a trip into the unknown despite his multiple record expeditions.

Known as the world's greatest living explorer, Fiennes will depart on Monday for the coldest place on Earth. The intrepid adventurer, 68, is the oldest person to have climbed Mount Everest and has crossed both polar ice caps. In 1992-93, he crossed the Antarctic unsupported.

The six-member team will leave Cape Town on Monday in a bid to become the first to traverse Antarctica, a distance of nearly 4,000km, in the Southern Hemisphere's winter, which begins in mid-March.

So far the furthest winter journey in Antarctica was in the early 20th century, covering only 60 miles. "We've been doing expeditions for a total of 40 years. We've broken a great number of world records. In Antarctica we've got two huge records, one in 1979 and one in 1992, but they are all in summer," Mr Fiennes told AFP.

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