Showing posts with label Ranulph Fiennes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ranulph Fiennes. Show all posts

Antarctica 2016: Sir Ranulph Fiennes Summits Mt. Vinson

We have a few updates from the Antarctic today as we round out our adventure news heading into the weekend. For the most part, the South Pole skiers continue to press on, but we have updates on two legendary explorers who have Antarctic ambitions this year.

First, we have news that Sir Ranulph Fiennes has summited Mt. Vinson, the tallest peak on the Antarctic continent at 16,050 feet (4892 meters). At 72 years of age, Fiennes is making a return trip to the polar region that he has visited several times in the past. On his summit push he faced -40ºC/F temperatures and high winds, as he topped out in demanding conditions. The climb is part of the explorer's Global Reach Challenge, in which he is hoping to summit the remaining Seven Summits by May of next year. He has already knocked off Everest, Elbrus, and Kilimanjaro in that pursuit. He'll now face Aconcagua, Denali, and Carstensz Pyramid in the next few months. His goal is to raise  funds for the Marie Curie Foundation.

Sir Ran wasn't the only one to summit Vinson in the past few days. The RMI team, led by Dave Hahn, also topped out, putting every one of the group's five clients on the summit. They reported calm conditions on their summit day, going up and down safely from High Camp. They have since descended back down the mountain and caught a flight back to Union Glacier, so it looks like the squad will be headed back to Chile soon with their mission accomplished.

Meanwhile, Swiss explorer Mike Horn has now reached the Antarctic continent. He and his crew have been sailing across the Southern Ocean for the past couple of weeks in preparation for Horn's attempt to traverse the continent via the South Pole as part of his Pole 2 Pole expedition. Mike hasn't made landfall on the ice yet, but should be preparing to set off in the next few days. He'll then ski to 90ºS before proceeding back to the coast, where his ship – the Pangea – will be waiting to pick him up. From there, he'll continue the journey, eventually heading north to attempt a similar crossing of the Arctic.

ExWeb is reporting that solo skier Risto Hallikainen, who intends to travel to the South Pole and back, suffered snow blindness earlier in the week. This painful ailment is caused by sunburnt corneas on the eyes and causes temporary loss of vision. This slowed his progress for a few days, but he seems to be back on track. Risto has also lightened his load some by leaving a supply depot with food and fuel behind. He'll pick that cache back up again on his return trip.

Finally, the six-man British Military team skiing to the South Pole have now reached the halfway point of their journey. They've crossed the 85th degree and are now making good time towards their end point. Spirits seem high, and conditions have been warmer than expected so far, so all is good.

We'll have more updates from the Antarctic next week. Stay tuned.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes Attempting New Adventure Record

Famed British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is about to embark on yet another mission. This time the many who has been called "the greatest living explorer" hopes to become the first person to cross both polar ice caps and climb the Seven Summits. And thanks to his already long history of undertaking major expeditions, he is already well on his way to accomplishing this goal.

Thanks to previous adventures, Fiennes has already skied across both the Arctic and Antarctic. He has also climbed Everest, Kilimanjaro, and Mt. Elbrus as well. That leaves him with Carstensz Pyramid in New Guinea (Australasia), Mount Vinson in Antarctica, Aconcagua in Argentina (South America), and Denali in North America to complete the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents. He hopes to wrap up each of those mountains within the next year, giving him the distinction of being the only person to accomplish all of these feats.

The 72-year old explorer is undertaking this mission as part of the Global Reach Challenge, an endeavor he has undertaken in an attempt to raise funds for Marie Curie, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting those living with a terminal illness as well as their families. To date, Fiennes' efforts have raised more than £300,000 ($393,000).

First up on the hit list will be Carstensz Pyramid, with that expedition getting underway soon. He'll have to wait until December of this year to attempt Mt. Vinson however, as the austral winter will prevent that climb from happening any sooner. As the highest mountain outside of the Himalaya, Aconcagua will pose a serious challenge, but the ultimate test will likely come on Denali sometime early next summer. Considering Fiennes has already successfully climbed Everest, he shouldn't find Denali to be particularly daunting, but the combination of unpredictable weather and unique technical hurdles still makes it a difficult proposition.

Reaching the North and South Pole and also climbing the Seven Summits is often referred to as the Adventure Grand Slam or Explorer's Grand Slam. Obviously, this has been done by a number of people in the past, but no one has skied across the entire Arctic and Antarctic, via the North and South Poles, before. That will give the British adventurer a leg up on the competition, and set his achievement apart from most others. It should be interesting to follow along with his journey and watch his progress unfold.

Good luck Ran!

Extreme Running News: North Pole Marathon Tests Runners, Sir Ran Completes Marathon des Sables

After a delayed start last week due to weather and a damaged aircraft at the Barneo Ice Camp, the 2015 North Pole Marathon finally took place over the weekend. This year there were 22 countries represented in the race with, with 45 total competitors, traveling to the top of the world to run in some of the most grueling conditions imaginable.

At the start of the race, temperatures hovered around -29ºC/-20ºF. Setting off across the pack ice, the runners knew they had quite a challenge in front of them, but not everyone knew exactly how difficult it would be. Apparently several athletes had to be treated for hypothermia after prolonged exposure to the cold, as the final competitors didn't reach the finish line until after they spent 15 hours running the route. That is an awfully long time to be out in those conditions.

The winner of the race was Petr Vabrousek of the Czech Republic. He finished in 4 hours, 22 minutes, 24 seconds, which is an impressive time all things considered. Second place went to Doug Wilson of Australia with a time of 5 hours, 1 minute, 38 seconds. Daniel Palko rounded out the podium with a time of 5 hours, 8 minutes, 56 seconds.

For the ladies it was Heather Hawkins of Australia taking the top honors with a time of 6 hours, 57 minutes, 39 seconds. She was followed by Alice Burch of the U.K. at 7 hours, 4 minutes, 42 seconds, and Jennifer Cheung of China/Hong Kong, who finished with a time of 7 hours, 6 minutes, 6 seconds.


According to race officials, the competitors were all rounded up and flown back Longyearbyen in Norway yesterday. The race is over for another year, and the competitors are now making their way back home.

Meanwhile, in the Sahara Desert another group of runners faced completely different conditions while competing in the Marathon des Sables over the weekend. The 256 km (159 mile), 6-day ultramarathon wrapped up on Saturday with runners struggling with temperatures that soared up to 48.8ºC/120ºF. Amongst them was Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who struggled to reach the finish line in an event that he called "more hellish than hell."

The 71-year old, who has been called the "World's Greatest Living Explorer," suffered alarming heart palpitations last Thursday when he completed the most grueling leg of the race. For a time, it looked like he would have to pull out altogether, but he managed to rally through his pain and complete the race. Fiennes, who has had two heart attacks in the past, as well as double bypass surgery, spent 30 hours out on the course at one point, as he covered a 90 km (56 mile) stage on just one hour of sleep.

The famed British explorer wasn't the only one making headlines at the Marathon des Sables. Fellow countryman Davey Heeley became the first blindman to complete the race as well. The 57-year old father of three is an incredibly fit runner who competes in marathons regularly, but had never done anything like the MdS before. He reached the finish line on Saturday as well, completing the final stage of the race in Morocco with the other competitors.

Some pretty inspiring stories of runners pushing themselves to the limits in extreme conditions. I'll think about these athletes when I go out for my run today in more modest temperatures.