Solo Antarctic walker gives up

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The Independent Online
The explorer Roger Mear has been forced to abandon his solo walk across Antarctica after vital equipment failed, his team said yesterday.

Mr Mear, 45, set off last month aiming to become the first person to walk alone and unsupported across 1,700 miles of the icy continent. He was racing against a rival contender, Borge Ousland, 33, from Norway. Mr Mear was raising funds for the Wilderness Trust, an Eastbourne-based charity dedicated to the world's remaining wild landscapes. He is an experienced explorer who has travelled to Antarctica five times before.

For his latest expedition he was pulling 450lb of food and equipment with the help of a parawing, a kite which enabled him to travel up to 70 miles a day. But the was able to carry only a simple transmitter enabling him to convey his condition and position.

Diana Nielson, an expedition team member, said yesterday: "We had a message from Roger at midday [on Saturday] saying 'I have an emergency, please get me out'. All we had was his position. Luckily the weather wasn't too bad so a Twin Otter aircraft with guides and a doctor could land nearby and rescue him." The explorer was expected to arrive in Chile last night. Nothing is yet known about the position of Mear's Norwegian rival.