Woman gets frostbite, leaves Antarctic ski odyssey

AP News
Posted: Nov 25, 2009 8:09 PM

One of eight women on an Antarctic ski trek to the South Pole has been forced to quit the adventure after suffering frostbite just three days into the 40-day journey, the team announced on its Web site.

Kim-Marie Spence, 30, from Kingston, Jamaica, said she was flying out of Antarctica on medical advice after frostbite blackened several of her fingers.

"I have frostbite which goes to show what kind of place Antarctica is _ it's really tough and I have the blackened fingers to prove it," Spence was quoted as saying in the Wednesday post.

She said a doctor had told her should could lose her fingers if she continued.

The eight women set out Monday from their base camp on Antarctica to ski to the South Pole in a trek to mark the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth grouping of 53 former British colonies, founded on Jan. 1, 1950.

Skiing six to 10 hours a day, the Commonwealth Women's Antarctic Expedition expects to travel 500 miles (800 kilometers) across the frozen southern continent to the pole in about 40 days. Each is towing a sledge with food and gear weighing some 175 pounds (80 kilograms).

The group will face blinding blizzards, winds in excess of 80 miles (130 kilometers) an hour, hidden crevasses and temperatures that plummet to minus 42 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius), their Web site said.

Until Spence's withdrawal, the expedition comprised women from eight Commonwealth countries: Brunei, Cyprus, Ghana, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, Singapore and Britain.

It had an inauspicious start when new tents were damaged by a roaring gale at Patriot Hills base camp in an area of Antarctica overseen by Argentina.

The women had to borrow tents while they sewed patches on their own.

The expedition funder, Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive of Britain's Kaspersky Lab, said the group is saddened by Spence's departure "but realize that this difficult decision is nonetheless the right one."

The seven remaining team members are due to reach the South Pole in early 2010.


On the Net: