Ranulph Fiennes, a novel life between oceans and mountains

Ranulph Fiennes is the “most important living explorer”, according to the rating in the Guinness Book of Records.

One says of the other, my cousin is the most important explorer in the world. And the other returns the kindness, my cousin is the most talented British actor of his generation. The family lineage of both dates back to the 15th century in the person of the politician and military man James Fiennes, 1st Baron Saye and Sele, and High Sheriff of the counties of Kent and Surrey.

The 59-year-old British actor Ralph fiennes he gets excited every time the Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes family gathers at Broughton Castle, his ancestors’ mansion built in the 14th century in the Oxfordshire countryside of southeastern England. Your cousin Ranulph Fiennes attends the event (which is repeated every 10 years) in which he amazes the participants by recounting his adventures that turned him into the “most important living explorer”, according to the rating in the Guinness Book of Records.

At 77 Ranulph could add several volumes to his incredible biography describing the incredible feats he unfolded across five continents. Her adventurous spirit was awakened in her early childhood from the stories her mother told her about her father, a Scottish Army colonel who died in late 1943 at the Battle of Montecassino, four months before his birth. After passing through the exclusive Eton College, Ranulph enlisted in the Royal Scot Grays regiment, the same one in which his father had served, from whom he inherited his 3rd title. baron. After nearly a decade of service in the armed forces, an activity that included counter-insurgency operations for the SAS (Special Air Service) in the Sultanate of Oman, he retired to dedicate himself to defying nature.

His stint in the army had ended with the red card. This is how Fiennes himself tells it: “I was expelled for the improper use of explosives from the army on public property. Britain’s prettiest town was being ruined. Twentieth Century Fox had built a film set nearby and it was making a real mess, so five of us decided to go there and blow it up. ” It was clear then that his was adventure. It was not bad.


He toured the North Pole twice and the South Pole once. He crossed Antarctica and Africa on foot. He was one of the discoverers of the lost city of Ubar in Oman. Over the years he crossed the Andes, the Alps and the Himalayas several times. And he explored the Nile almost in its entirety, as well as going up the Amazon River by canoe.

In 1993 he walked for more than ninety days through Antarctica with his great friend the nutritionist Mark Stroud, a renowned physiologist who served as chief scientist at the UK Center for Human Sciences, specializing in analyzing human resistance in extreme conditions. Throughout the years the body of Fiennes was for his friend Stroud the best mobile laboratory to experiment on the limits of the human organism in the face of the climatic demands of nature.

At age 60 Fiennes and Stroud ran seven marathons in seven days on several continents. But the first did so under “inferior conditions.” Four months earlier, he had suffered a cardiac arrest that forced him to undergo coronary bypass surgery after three days of hospitalization. However, the British record holder crossed the finish line in the New York competition setting a time of 5 hours and 25 minutes, an exceedingly worthy mark for a 60-year-old man who had just run six marathons (jet lag after his trip). from Cairo) on different continents.

In 2009, 65-year-old Fiennes climbed Mount Everest after two failed attempts in 2005 and 2008.

In 2009 Fiennes, 65, climbed Mount Everest after two failed attempts in 2005 and 2008, obtaining the record for his country for such a feat. He also reached the top of Aconcagua, and at the age of 72 he climbed Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe. Two years earlier he had to resign himself to a new record. Carry out a march of more than 3,200 kilometers in the Antarctic winter with temperatures that can reach 90 degrees below zero.

But such feats were not without serious ups and downs on his anatomy. During his expedition to the North Pole in 2000, Fiennes had an accident with his sled caused by the cracking of ice, and in his attempt to rescue him he suffered from the frostbite of his hands. Upon his arrival in England, he reported that he decided to amputate his own phalanges after a doctor warned him that he would have to wait several months to undergo surgery.

“My wife said that I was getting very angry because it was very painful to touch anything with my mummified fingers,” said the explorer. “So to stop the pain I bought an electric razor. My wife made me some cups of tea and I started cutting ”. In his words the process was slow. “It took me two days to cut off my thumb.”

Fiennes, appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1993, married his girlfriend and childhood friend, Virginia Pepper, who died of cancer in 2004 at age 26. Since then, the adventurous and prolific writer with more than a dozen published essays and novels, he is the only person to have received two polar medals for his voyages in the Arctic and Antarctica. He is currently married to Louise Millington, with whom he has a fifteen-year-old daughter. These days he prides himself on the distinctions achieved by his favorite drink: his own Sir Ranulph Fiennes Rum, which he produces in Essex at a cost of £ 40 a bottle.

His life could have taken a radical turn in early 1971 when the producers of James Bond decided to find a replacement for Sean Connery. Among the 400 applicants Fiennes was in the final shortlist, but the one chosen to play agent 007 was Roger Moore, who two years later would make his debut in that role in the film Live and let die. Perhaps in the near future the fate of the Fiennes cousins ​​will cross again. Ralph, who has already participated in the Ian Fleming saga as MI6 director, made public his wish to be Her Majesty’s new agent with a license to kill. Lineage is not lacking; Ralph Fiennes and Prince Charles are descendants of King James II of Scotland, a blood bond that makes them eighth cousins.


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