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Living It: Sir Ranulph Fiennes
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Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous
The "world's greatest living explorer" keeps on ticking.  
Text by Mary Anne Potts   Photograph by Ian Parnell


Photo: Sir Ranulph Fiennes


High Profile: "The Madness of Sir Ran" >>

Exclusive Interview with Sir Ranulph Fiennes:  Page 1  |  Page 2

Which of your expeditions are you the most proud of?
I suppose I'm most proud of the 26 years it took to find the lost city of Ubar because we found it by astoundingly good luck. Unfortunately the New York Times came out with a load of rubbish about NASA finding it, which was a complete lie to be honest. NASA had helped us, absolutely. But for them to try and say they located it where we found it was utter rubbish.


Which expedition would you most readily do over again?
I certainly wouldn't do the 26-year one all over again. I wouldn't do the Eiger over again. I like running marathons, but seven in a row is a bit tiring, so I wouldn't do that. I find the Arctic Ocean sometimes very unpredictable. I think I probably would do a nice holiday type one, like I once went with my late wife on a typical rafting expedition down the Grand Canyon. I really enjoyed that.  


When was that?
About 20 years ago. I actually was lying on the side of the big rubber ring at the front of the boat. They turned the engine off, and we were floating. Soon I saw a black duck, which gradually floated toward the front of the boat. There were children on board, so I thought the duck would be a great hit. As it clocked up against the boat, I grabbed at it and found that it was a human head. So I didn't pull in on board—the children wouldn't have liked it. I told the boatman, and he said there's been this guy in the river for five days after a helicopter crash. That sort of excitement never occurs on real expeditions.


What do you say to people who call you crazy?
When we're selecting people, they are usually specialists, doctors, camera people, or whoever—certainly not crazy people. I think once you start trying to do expeditions in a new or different way, then it can get a bit gimmicky or dangerous. Then again, when you're trying to be the first to, well, cross the Antarctic continent with no support, you need to plan it with great meticulous care, common sense, and slight pessimism, rather than reckless optimism. Although "crazy" might be more applicable to this than a 9 to 5 job in the city (which I would consider crazy), I don't think it actually fulfills the dictionary definition of the word.

High Profile: "The Madness of Sir Ran" >>

Exclusive Interview with Sir Ranulph Fiennes:  Page 1  |  Page 2

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