Famed explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes feared he would "die of cold" after a skiing accident left him stranded in the Antarctic during a training mission last month (Feb13).
The 68-year-old cousin of acting siblings Ralph and Joseph Fiennes was in the area training for a charity adventure, but had to be evacuated after he fell over and contracted a severe bout of frostbite when he attempted to fix his equipment.
Fiennes risked losing his fingers by removing his gloves in temperatures of around minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit), but insists he had no choice.
Speaking after his return to London on Monday (04Mar13), he told reporters, "I tried fixing them (the ski bindings) with my big overgloves on but I couldn't do a thing. You couldn't even peel a banana with those on. So I took off my inner mitts in order to be able to do the bindings up.
"People will say, 'Surely you know you mustn't take your mitts off completely.' But if (I hadn't), I'd have sat there, gone nowhere, and died of cold. It's just one of those things."
Fiennes, who has lost fingers to frostbite in the past, also revealed two more of his digits may need to be operated on.
The accident prompted him to pull out of the upcoming 2,000-mile (3,219-kilometre) adventure, dubbed the Coldest Journey On Earth, but he has wished his team-mates luck with the charity challenge, which is due to start on 21 March (13).
He adds, "I am very frustrated at being back six months before the expedition is due to finish. I am not good at crying over spilt milk, or split fingers, but it is extremely frustrating. Having spent five years on this I am going to make sure it succeeds."