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Sir Ranulph Fiennes has been forced to pull out of the ‘Coldest Journey’ expedition across Antarctica due to severe frostbite.

The 68-year-old, described by Guinness World Records as ‘the world’s greatest living explorer’ contracted frostbite after removing his glove to fix his ski binding in temperatures around -30C.

Once the blizzard conditions around the region die down, he will be transported by skidoo to the nearest airstrip which will then see him flown to Novo and finally Cape Town.

One of Sir Ranulph’s team-mates on the expedition, Tony Medniuk, said: “After five years of preparation, a small slip like this and a few moments can undermine the most meticulous preparation.”

Sir Ranulph himself is said to be ‘gutted’ at having to pull out from the trip.

The journey’s aim is to cross Antarctica in winter.

The trip, of 2000 miles and which will take six months, has never been completed by a human before.

The team who will continue without Sir Ranulph will experience almost permanent darkness over the half year they spend on the continent and temperatures as low as -90C.

The record-breaking expedition is being made to support ‘Seeing is Believing’, a charity which aims to tackle avoidable blindness.

Sir Ranulph famously experienced frostbite on another of his cold weather expeditions, that time at the North Pole.

After returning to his home in the UK he was told that surgeons would have to wait several months for the damaged tissue on his hands to heal before they could amputate his fingers.

But Sir Ranulph amputated them himself using a fretsaw, with the surgeon at the time saying the explorer had done ‘a remarkably good job’.