This has been a truly excellent weekend for expedition-related news. If Paul Salopek's seven-year Out of Eden trek wasn't enough for you, perhaps British adventurer and official "greatest living explorer" Ranulph Fiennes' The Coldest Journey will suffice (it's worth clicking through for the pictures of the ice-clustered, bristling set of eyebrows on Ranulph alone).
In a very clear and derisive gesture toward Death, Fiennes and four others will attempt to travel across Antarctica (partly on motorized sleds, partly on foot) in the middle of winter - the first trip of its kind. And because just "crossing Antarctica in winter" isn't enough for Fiennes, they'll raise $10 million for a charity for the blind and try to document the effects of global warming in the polar regions along the way. If there is time.
If it took you a few minutes to realize that Ranulph is not that same person as Ralph Fiennes, don't worry about it. Happens to everyone (they're distant cousins).
Despite his advancing years and a number of health scares - he suffered heart problems while making an earlier attempt to climb Everest and amputated five of his fingers using an electric drill from his garden shed after losing them to frostbite - Fiennes is sanguine about his chances of success.
"I don't think about not coming back, because I mean, more people get killed on the roads here [London] than they do in Antarctica. I mean, I had a massive heart attack reading a magazine on an airplane. You don't need to go to Antarctica to pop it."
And the story just gets better from there. Ranulph, whose full name is "Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wickham-Fiennes" because of course it is, plans on leaving for the Great White Desert shortly after Christmas and begin the journey by March. He plans on bringing enough supplies to survive for 365 in case the team is stranded, a distinct possibility since "in winter all the rescue facilities shut off."
Of course they do.
[Image via AP]