Veteran polar explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is gearing up to take on one of the last remaining polar challenges. He'll be attempting to complete the coldest journey on Earth - the first-ever trans-Antarctic winter expedition. It is estimated that the journey via the South Pole will take six months, mostly in complete darkness and temperatures as low as -70°C. The expedition team will leave London on December 6th, bound for Antarctica on board the South African ice-strengthened research ship, 'SA Agulhas'.
The expedition has the support of the Commonwealth and a number of sponsors, including Bridgedale, who are providing their warmest socks for the coldest journey and Montane who designed custom made sledge jackets.
On 21 March 2013, the equinox, the six expedition members will begin their six month journey to reach the Ross Sea. Their route is from the Russian base of Novolazareskaya ('Novo') to Captain Scott's base at McMurdo Sound via the South Pole. The expedition team will have to be entirely self-sufficient and there will be no search and rescue facility available, as aircraft cannot penetrate inland during winter, due to darkness and risk of fuel freezing. Previously, the furthest any expedition has ever ventured into Antarctica during the winter is 60 miles. On this journey, Sir Ranulph and his team will aim to cover 2,000 miles in six months, crossing the polar plateau at an average height of 10,000ft above sea level. A Norwegian team recently crossed the Arctic in winter, leaving an attempt at an Antarctic winter crossing one of the last remaining polar challenges.
Sir Ranulph said: “This will be my greatest challenge to date. We will stretch the limits of human endurance. Britain and the Commonwealth has a strong heritage of exploration, from Captain Cook 300 years ago to the present day. As such, it is fitting that a Commonwealth team should be the first to fulfil this last great polar expedition."
The Coldest Journey will attempt to raise USD10 million for Seeing is Believing, a global charitable initiative to fight avoidable blindness. During their sea voyage, the team will also undertake a number of scientific tasks to provide unique data on marine life, oceanography and meteorology.
Bridgedale WoolFusion Summit socks were selected as the team's preferred sock, to protect their feet and help insulate them when they combat temperatures as low as -90C. The teams tested several socks in a cold chamber and chose the Bridgedale WoolFusion Summit Knee as the best socks to keep their feet dry, warm and comfortable throughout their expedition.