Antarctic explorer Henry Worsley airlifted to hospital 71 days into record bid


An intrepid explorer on the brink of making Antarctic history with a solo crossing across the ice has been taken to hospital with a potentially fatal condition.

Former Army officer Henry Worsley, 55, from Fulham, London was 71 days in to his attempt to become the first adventurer to cross the continent completely unsupported and unassisted when he had to call for help.

Battling temperatures of minus 44, tackling white-out blizzards and treacherous ice, the ex-lieutenant colonel had passed the South Pole, covering 913 miles and was a mere 30 miles from the finish.

After spending two days unable to move from his tent, the married father-of-two took the decision to pull out of the charity adventure after his body started to suffer from exhaustion and severe dehydration.

He was airlifted off the ice on Friday.

Shackleton Solo team member, Catherine Gale, said Mr Worsley is being treated for peritonitis at a hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile - his wife Joanna, 56, is currently on her way to be by his side.

She said: "It is obviously a concerning time. He reluctantly made the decision to call the end of the expedition and clearly he pushed himself to the limits.

"He had very very bad weather - the whole way it was against him. He is obviously disappointed. But everyone is in awe of what he has done - he is a great man and a fantastic person."

Peritonitis occurs when the thin layer of tissue lining of the tummy becomes infected. Symptoms can include swelling of the abdomen, vomiting, chills, lack of appetite and a high temperature. Complications can be as serious as sepsis and septic shock.

Embarking on his journey in November last year, 100 years after Sir Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated and unfinished trip, Mr Worsley wanted to use the challenge to raise £100,000 for The Endeavour Fund.

"Having been a career soldier for 36 years and recently retired, it has been a way of giving back to those far less fortunate than me," said Mr Worsley.

Father to Max, 21, and Alicia, 19, he said he would "lick his wounds" and "come to terms with the disappointment" of not finishing the herculean feat.

He added: "I must thank my followers and supporters who have so generously contributed. You have all been incredible and have made this so worth doing despite the hardship. Thank you."

Mr Worsley has surpassed his original fundraising goal and garnered more than £101,000 for The Endeavour Fund - something he called "incredible" and a "huge reward" for his efforts.

The charity is managed by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and supports injured or wounded veterans who wish to use sport or do an adventurous challenge as part of their rehabilitation and recovery.