JOHANNESBURG — It’s a six-month expedition in almost constant darkness, in the coldest place on the planet, with no chance of rescue if things go wrong. British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes calls it one of the last remaining polar challenges: crossing Antarctica during the region’s winter.
Against the backdrop of Cape Town’s majestic Table Mountain, Fiennes, 68, and his five-member team left the South African port city on Monday aboard a South African polar vessel, the SA Agulhas, for what they have dubbed “The Coldest Journey.”
After reaching the southernmost continent, the expedition will begin its journey via the South Pole on March 21, traversing nearly 2,485 miles in a place, beautiful and forbidding, where temperatures often dip as low as minus 94 Fahrenheit.
The trip is particularly hazardous because no aircraft can travel inland in the winter due to the darkness and risk that fuel will freeze, meaning there is virtually no chance of a search and rescue operation if disaster strikes.