I find it miserable not having a reasonable challenge ongoing. That’s the driving force.
This former SAS soldier was the first person to cross Antarctica by foot and visit both the North and South Poles by surface means. In 2003, after a double heart bypass operation, he decided to run seven marathons, in seven different continents within seven days. Now as he is just about to celebrate his 72nd birthday Sir Ranulph Fiennes is planning yet another expedition that is about to capture the world’s imagination. It should be no surprise then that The Guinness Book of Records decided to name him the greatest living explorer. So with more than 45 years of exploration under his belt we thought it only fair that his fellow adventurers had the chance to ask him some questions, so this month we asked Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ fellow adventurers from the fields of climbing, trekking, sailing and running to set the questions…
Would you rather run out of chocolate or salami on an expedition? – Alastair Humpheys, adventurer
Sir Ranulph: Salami.
What would you like to be if you were doing life all over again? – Tracey Curtis-Taylor, aviatrix
Sir Ranulph: Always happy.
Which place that you have visited was the most intimidating and why? – John Cantor, adventurer
Sir Ranulph: My first day at an English school (after 12 years in South Africa). I felt inadequate and different.
If you were to it all over again, would you change anything to make these later years different? – Dave Cornthwaite, adventurer
Sir Ranulph: Yes. Mike Stroud and I would have gone that little bit further on one or two of our endeavours.
Can you tell us a little about your inner journey on these expeditions? – Rosie Swale Pope, runner
Sir Ranulph: No, Rosie, because I’m no good at introspection.
Is social media ultimately a blessing or a curse to the adventure world? – Jason Lewis, explorer
Sir Ranulph: A curse in my opinion, but I imagine younger folk would disagree.
What was your worst moment of doubt – where you thought you should have turned back, instead of going forward? – Ed Viesturs, mountaineer
Sir Ranulph: None. It was always the other way. I thought we should have gone forward instead of turning back.
What’s your favourite food for cold weather travel? – Will Gadd, ice climber
Sir Ranulph: Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.
With so many people now taking part in extreme expeditions and adventure tourism – do you think that expedition adventuring requiring large funds will die a death within a generation? – Adrian Hayes, adventurer
Sir Ranulph: I’d love to make a guess, but it’s an unanswerable question.
It seems that people are unable to distinguish the difference between tourists skiing the last degree to the pole or Henry Worsley’s attempt to achieve the solo crossing of Antarctica. Ran, do you think there’s a future for young(er!?) adventurers trying to make a living from exploration as you have done? – Olly Hicks, sailor
Sir Ranulph: I really hope that it will be possible in some fields of outdoor challenges, but less easy than in the ‘70s.
Is having a competitive nature the best motivator or is there something else that drives you? – Benedict Allen, adventurer
Sir Ranulph: I just find it miserable not having a reasonable challenge ongoing. That’s the driving force.
Who would you most like to make an expedition with (fictional or impossible), when, where and why? Sarah Outen, sailor
Sir Ranulph: With Jesus. The first ever team to walk on water down the Colorado River.
A dedication to exploration is not without sacrifice. What is the greatest personal sacrifice you have made in order to be a lifelong explorer? Do you have any regrets? – Jennifer Pharr Davis, hiker
Sir Ranulph: I don’t remember making a personal sacrifice and that seems very selfish. I do regret more than one occasion being beaten by Norwegians.
Do you fear failure? – Ben Fogle, adventurer
Sir Ranulph: Yes, I do fear failure.
Which one expedition are you most proud of and why? – David Hempleman-Adams, adventurer
Sir Ranulph: The long expedition (38 years) of marriage to Ginny.
You do a lot of work for charity and have raised millions of pounds over the years. How important is it that adventure serves a purpose beyond that of a purely personal desire to explore? – Anna McNuff, adventurer
Sir Ranulph: It is a bonus to do useful stuff like fund-raising and science on expeditions, but certainly not vital.
Music plays a huge part in my life. It motivates me while riding, inspires me for new projects and helps me to overcome fear. Do you use music in any way during your expeditions to motivate you? – Danny MacAskill, street trials pro rider
Sir Ranulph: No. Definitely not, but it would be nice to have a team member good with the bagpipes.
Photography: Liz Scarff and Ian Parnell