Ranulph Fiennes raises awareness of avoidable blindness

Ranulph Fiennes raises awareness of avoidable blindness

By Alexa Kaczka

Intrepid explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is doing his bit to raise awareness of avoidable blindness and how to prevent it by embarking on another death-defying mission.

The 68-year-old adventurer has been to the planet's highest, coldest and most dangerous places during his life and will attempt to set yet another world record when he leads the first team on foot across Antarctica during the southern winter.

The expedition is set to last six months and will begin next year, with the code name The Coldest Journey.

Fiennes, who three years ago become the oldest man to climb Mount Everest, told the BBC that breaking records is something that he has never grown tired of.

"Sometimes we don't succeed, but it's what we go for. It's our specialty," he explained.

His latest pursuit will see him disembark ship on the pacific coast of the continent and then setting off across the ice shelf once the equinox arrives on March 21st next year.

After that, they will climb 10,000ft on to the inland plateau, before heading on to the South Pole, after which they will eventually drop 11,000ft back on to the ice shelf, before completing the 2,000-mile journey at the Ross Sea.

The event is being staged to raise awareness of the charity Seeing is Believing, which aims to prevent the development of eye conditions that can cause blindness around the world.

Sir Ranulph admitted that there was another motive behind the expedition, however.

"We looked at this 25 years ago and realised it was impossible, but then we heard a rumour that Norwegian explorers were contemplating this. We realised we were going to have to have a go," he told the BBC.

If successful, the team expect to complete their journey by the end of October 2013 and etch their place in the record books.

by Emily Tait

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