Sir Ranulph Fiennes is due to arrive back in England tomorrow morning before heading into a press conference with the world’s media. Ahead of this event, expedition doctor Rob Lambert answered some questions for the press about Ran’s condition and what his departure means for the rest of the team and the expedition as a whole. His answers were as follows:


Did you help Ran when the frostbite set in and what did you do?

I managed Ran’s frostbite as we normally do in these cases. We rapidly thawed out his affected fingers in a warm water bath and started a course of medications to reduce the frostbite damage and to help with his pain. Since then there have been daily reviews, more water baths, and drainage of his developing blisters – all the while taking steps to avoid infection and keep Ran warm and well. This is standard treatment for frostbite in the field and Ran bore it all with great patience.


What was Ran’s reaction when he realised his injury was serious and had to leave the expedition?

Ran understood immediately that he would not be able to cross Antarctica by foot with this injury, and that even when he recovers from this, he would be risking further frostbite when conditions deteriorate during the winter. It was a very hard decision for him to make – not only to stop skiing, but also to leave Antarctica altogether. He has put over five years of planning into making this expedition a reality, and he was understandably gutted for it to end like this. But he is used to making tough decisions and I am sure he will bounce back.


What will happen to him when he gets home?

He will need to continue the medical treatment we have started here but as soon as his injuries allow, Ran will continue to pour all his effort into supporting the expedition, and in particular raising money for Seeing is Believing. The five of us remaining on the ice could not ask for a better ambassador.


Do you think this will put him off any future expeditions or is it just another day at the office for Ran?

Well, I suppose Ran’s ‘office’ consists of the wild and wonderful parts of our planet! From what I know of Ran, I’m sure he will be as determined as ever to continue with expeditions and fundraising for charity. It’s what he does.


What will this mean to the team?

A:We’re a close-knit team, and of course the five of us will all miss him. He has a wealth of experience, and I for one will miss his company, his stories, and our daily duel on the draughts board! But we have a job to finish and we will do everything in our power to complete this journey. Ran is 100% behind us in trying to become the first people to cross Antarctica in winter, and hopefully we’ll make him proud.


Will you be keeping in touch with him during the expedition via email or other form of contact to keep him updated?

It’s a little known fact, but one of our minor achievements during the time we have all spent with Ran is to teach him how to use email, and he’s taken to it like a duck to water! We’ll be keeping in touch with him daily; Ran will be keen to know how we’re doing, and he’ll also need frequent updates to help him continue with his Seeing is Believing fundraising efforts in the UK.


Will this make your team more determined?

More than ever. The show must go on.


How is training coming along for you and are you prepared for the journey ahead?

Ran’s ambition to cross Antarctica on foot has sadly come to an end, but for the rest of us the plan to make the first vehicular winter crossing continues unchanged. In a sense, although we are learning all the time, there is no more training to do. We are as prepared as we ever will be; onwards and upwards.


Is there anything else that you would like to say?

It is a huge shame for Ran to have to leave us like this, and no doubt it will be one of many tests over the months ahead. But we are a strong and determined team, and we can and will continue. Ran is passionate about raising money for Seeing is Believing – perhaps too passionate, if frostbite is the price he has paid! It is up to us to carry on where he left off.