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Ice men are ready for coldest journey

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THOUSANDS of miles from home, a brave team is preparing for an expedition in the Antarctic never before attempted by man.

The team, led by veteran explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, will complete the last polar challenge – crossing 2,000 miles of the Antarctic via the south pole during winter.

And working alongside Sir Ranulph and the four other members of The Coldest Journey’s ice team is 35-year-old Ian Prickett, of Gosport.

Ian and the team are currently 200 miles south, in temperatures of minus -12C, pushing further south to drop off fuel.

They will then return north for the start of the expedition on March 21, picking up the fuel on the way back south, having saved carrying it.

The team arrived at Crown Bay in Queen Maud Land, Eastern Antarctica, aboard SA Agulhas, which left them on February 3.

Speaking to The News via satellite phone Ian said: ‘We’ve been out here on our own now and we’re totally self-sufficient.

‘We carry everything – the two cabooses have everything we need for the next year now.

‘It’s great – I’ve been working on this for the last year back in the UK and we’re actually finally here and underway with just the six of us heading to the south pole.

‘It’s a long old road, that’s for sure.’

Ian has filmed and sent back parts of the journey – including when he and the team had to cut out their fuel sleds from the ice.

As previously reported in The News, engineer Ian is no stranger to the cold as he works for the British Antarctic Survey at Halley Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea.

The team only stopped to dine with the crew of Princess Elisabeth Station on Saturday before continuing with their preparations.

When the expedition begins, two skiers will lead the way for the ‘ice train’ – consisting of two Caterpillar tractors and two living quarter cabooses, which Ian built, and storage sleds.

Leader Sir Ranulph will be joined by Ian and the other skiers in rotation, meaning they need to be prepared.

Ian said: ‘We’re trying to build our endurance up to make our legs work a little bit longer.

‘Hopefully by the time we get back we’ll all be able to ski almost all day if needed.’

Ian said the team aims to cover 20 miles each day, with the temperature plummeting below -50C further south.

The temperature is not the only danger as they must also watch out for crevasses.

‘If anything goes wrong you’re on your own so you’ve got to be careful,’ he said.

‘On the mountain range itself there will be a lot of crevasses.’

Ian has already felt danger as an ice shelf cracked open just 100 metres from him when unloading the ship.

The team are raising £6.4m for Seeing is Believing, an international charity tackling blindness.

 

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