THE MAN: Sir Ranulph Fiennes, 63, first person (along with teammate Charlie Burton) to reach both Poles by surface travel; expedition leader in finding the lost city of Ubar, in Oman.It's been a busy decade for Sir Ranulph Fiennes. In 2000 he trekked across the Arctic alone (and later sawed off all five frostbitten fingertips on his left hand). In 2003 he ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days—just months after double bypass surgery. Two years later he came within a thousand feet of Everest's summit, when chest pains forced him back. And in March he scaled the infamous north face of the Eiger to confront his fear of heights.
THE MISSION: Transform his expeditions into a vehicle for humanitarian fundraising.
To manage this phobia, Sir Ran employed a technique he acquired as a paratrooper in the British Army: Don't look down. But that proved more difficult in the Swiss Alps. "On the Traverse of the Gods, I couldn't find the next foot point for my crampons without looking down at this immediate void," he says. "Instead of curing me of this vertigo problem, the Eiger has actually reinforced it." Though his therapeutic goal was a wash, Fiennes looks to have tripled his secondary objective—raising more than $3 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
This month the man the Guinness World Records dubbed the "world's greatest living explorer" is releasing a new autobiography, Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know (Hodder & Stoughton). Fiennes also has some unfinished business to attend to: He's heading back to Everest next spring. "Hopefully this time," he says, "my ticker will behave itself."
High Profile: "The Madness of Sir Ran" >>
Exclusive Interview with Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Page 1 | Page 2
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