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Famed explorer ends Antarctica bid

LONDON — British explorer Ranulph Fiennes on Monday pulled out of an expedition to cross Antarctica during the region’s winter after developing frostbite, a bitter disappointment for an adventurer who had spent years preparing for the great polar challenge.

The 68-year-old and his five-member team had hoped to traverse nearly 2,500 miles in a place where temperatures often dip as low as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. The expedition, dubbed ‘‘The Coldest Journey,’’ will continue without him.

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‘‘The condition is such that he has very reluctantly decided . . . to withdraw from Antarctica while the possibility to do so still exists, before the onset of the Antarctic winter,’’ the expedition said in a statement.

Fiennes, who has been going where others fear to tread for decades and in 2009 became the oldest person to summit Mount Everest, already is missing parts of his fingers on his left hand because of frostbite suffered on a North Pole expedition a decade ago.

‘‘This will be my greatest challenge to date,’’ he had said on his website before the journey began. ‘‘We will stretch the limits of human endurance.’’

The polar trek is especially dangerous because no aircraft can travel inland in the winter due to the darkness and risks that fuel will freeze. That means there would be virtually no chance of a search-and-rescue operation if disaster strikes.

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