Conference Preview: Fiennes Talks About What Drives Him

May 16, 2014 How do you keep fit between expeditions?

RF: With difficulty, and the older you get, the more training you have to compensate. I need to do about three two-hour runs a week. Although, when I say run I should say shuffle. The word run became jog about 20-years and about five-years ago shuffle. Two three hours runs would be minimal in between lecturing. Then every morning on getting up, before breakfast, I do about 25 minutes of stretching, press-ups, etc. How do you prepare for an expedition?

RF: If you’re trying to pull a man-haul sledge you need to be able to do it with similar weight. We then drag it on heather. While you don’t wear skis, you do have poles and that gets the correct sledge hauling muscles working. So you don’t go to the same environment and practice?

No, last year during training for Antarctica we went to North Sweden, but we knew Antarctica was going to be about -80 (degrees centigrade) and Sweden only managed -42. So, for checking the team, it wasn’t ideal. What drives you to continue achieving?

RF: I need to pay the bills, really.

Sometimes one of the team will send an urgent email or make a phone call saying did I know that Erling Kagge and Børge Ousland are doing ‘XYZ expedition’ and hadn’t we better get a move on?

I still want to take those challenges on because there are fewer and fewer records to be broken, mainly because there are only two poles. What’s your view on the sherpas cancelling the rest of the climbing season on Everest this year because of the avalanche?

I suspect that there will still be certain teams allowed to climb from Tibet and Nepal. We are still in mid-May so there are another two weeks of climbing. It is probable that 1-2 people will be allowed up there. I don’t know though, but it’s likely there will be a lot of arguments. Does your experience tell you that things like this (the Avalanche that killed 16 sherpas last month) happen because certain protocols aren’t in place or was it just a freak accident?

RF: Well, every year the avalanches happen in that particular place. I was camped in the base camp when an avalanche killed a Sherpa. But this was a bigger one and just sheer luck that that number of people happened to be there at that time.

But every year the Sherpas are constantly up and down the mountain, be it with oxygen or putting new ropes in place, so they – by the very fact they are there more often – are more at risk than tourists. What piece of advice would you give an adventurer starting out now?

RF: If you are going to do it seriously then become a member of the top European expedition advisory body, which is the Royal Geographical Society in London. There is a cost, but it’s not very much and they have amazing access to every expedition that has gone anywhere, including expeditions such as the rapids in the Congo, and therefore meticulous details from reports from previous expeditions. What are the three essential items you can’t do without on an expedition?

RF: On hot expeditions, you have to have something to stop the itching if you are bitten by an insect or stung by a plant.

Secondly, you must have the correct clothing from top to toe, which of course changes according to the climate and weather.

Thirdly, the most important thing is to have the correct people. What is your favourite expedition?

RF: I don’t know. I suppose the Transglobe.

ETF: What is your next expedition?

RF: We never let out what we are going to do in advance and neither do the Norwegians.


Interested in hearing Sir Ranulph Fiennes' views in person? Join him and other speakers in Amsterdam from 3 to 5 June for our 5th Annual Inside ETFs Europe conference. To view the full agenda and registration information, click here.





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