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68-Year-Old Explorer Plans to Cross Antarctica…in Winter

Sir Ranulph Fiennes will traverse Antarctica by ski, in the middle of winter

Antarctica Image Credit: Mike Martoccia via Flickr

Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (Ran Fiennes, for short) has already scaled Everest, explored the Nile by hovercraft and run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. He’s even crossed Antarctica unaided. But next spring, the British adventurer will take his polar journey one step further, crossing the entire continent of Antarctica while that continent is gripped in the icy chill of winter.

The BBC reports that he’ll be traversing the continent by ski, pulling along ground penetrating radar equipment, which will peer under the ice and snow to check and see if there are any crevasses. These giant cracks in the ice could spell the end of Fiennes’ support team—two giant bulldozers loaded down with supplies and shelter.

But why undergo such a journey in the seventh decade of life? The obvious answer is ‘why not?’ But Fiennes also mentioned a deep-seated rivalry.

He told the BBC: “We heard a rumour that Norwegian explorers were contemplating this. We realised we were going to have to have a go.”

The statement eerily echoes a rivalry from a century ago, when Norwegian Roald Amundsen beat British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole in 1912. With any luck, Fiennes will fare better than Scott, who died trying to make it back from the Pole.

In addition to setting a record, Fiennes hopes to collect scientific data and raise money for charity. He starts on his epic trek across the continent next March.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Antarctica Erupts!
FDR’s Stamp Design Funds Trip to Antarctica, Inspiring Hope Along the Way
Last Race on Earth

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