Saturday, May 23, 2009


Ranulph Fiennes is one of my heroes albeit a bit of an odd one. Yesterday, as most people would know by now, he completed the ascent of Everest at the ripe oldish age of 65. In fact he is the oldest British person to complete the feat. We live in an age where such an achievement seems commonplace now. The successful completion of an Everest expedition is now a possibilty for anybody who is relatively fit and healthy and who has the necessary cash to spend on one of the corporate climbing companies who lead (literally by the hand) 'customers' up the mountain. But a trip like this is still fraught by risk. You only have to read a copy of Jon Krakauer's 'Into Thin Air' - an excellent recollection of the ill-fated 1996 Everest challenge - to realise that very real dangers still exist. Fiennes ascent was after all, even for an undisputed action-man, his third attempt.

By most reckoning Ranulph Fiennes is a representative of the ruling class. Eton educated, a distant cousin of the Queen, a Baronet for goodness sake. Hardly a talisman for my socialist leanings. But a talisman he remains. The never say die attitude and a burning desire to see just how far the human spirit and body can go in the face of adversity I see as admirable. Some might way he is a bit tapped, a bit doo-lally. Anybody who can cut off their own frost bitten fingers with a hacksaw, or complete seven marathons in seven continents in seven days just a few months after extensive heart surgery is surely a bit weird. But I would gladly forego a little 'sanity' for a little of that drive.  So a hero he is and a hero he shall remain. I hope I keep hearing about more achievements for years to come.

No comments: