Third time lucky: Sir Ranulph Fiennes, 65, becomes oldest Briton to conquer Everest

He has the gloriously British name of Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet OBE.

And he's also a very British hero - a fearless explorer, someone who loves nothing more than exploring some of the world's most inhospitable landscapes; someone who cut off their own frostbitten figures with a Black & Decker saw (when he returned home from an unsuccessful attempt to walk solo and unaided to the North Pole in 2000, the doctor told him to keep his necrotic fingertips for several months before amputation. The pain being too much to bear, he went to his local village store where he bought a Black & Decker and cut them off with a micro blade); a man who, in 2003, ran seven marathons in seven continents (including Antarctica), in just seven days just four months after suffering a heart attack and undergoing a double heart bypass operation; a man who, in 1992, co-discovered the lost city of Ubar in Oman, which is mentioned in the Koran and in folklore; a man who, from 1979-1982, became the first person to reach both North and South Poles by surface travel only.

On another occasion in the 1960s, as a member of the SAS, he was offended by the construction of an ugly concrete dam built by 20th Century Fox for the production of the 1967 film Doctor Dolittle in the Wiltshire village of Castle Combe — which often wins awards for the prettiest village in England (American film studios don't have a very good track record for respecting beauty spots). So Fiennes planned to demolish the dam. He used explosives which he later claimed to have obtained legitimately from the armoury, but in the event didn't detonate them.

He even once made the first hovercraft journey along the Nile.

And they are only some of his feats.

Now, at the age of 65, he has become the oldest Briton, and the first British pensioner, to scale Mount Everest.

It was his third attempt to scale the world's highest mountain. In 2005 he suffered heart trouble 1,300ft from the top and last year he turned back at 26,000ft after battling exhaustion. He vowed to never attempt the climb again.

But a little bit of heart trouble won't deter him for long. After reaching the sumit this time around, Ranulph, who is a distant cousin of the Queen, said he felt "dreadful."

Third time lucky: Sir Ranulph Fiennes, 65, becomes oldest Briton to conquer Everest

By Tarquin Cooper (external - login to view)
22nd May 2009
Daily Mail

He did it. Despite having a dicky ticker, a fear of heights, a few missing fingertips – and a free bus pass – Sir Ranulph Fiennes has conquered Everest.

At 65, he is the oldest Briton and the first British pensioner to have accomplished the feat.

By now, surely, the elation has set in. But yesterday, standing on top of the world at 29,035ft, Sir Ranulph simply said he felt ‘dreadful’.

Success: Sir Ranulph Fiennes at the summit of Everest yesterday

‘This is the closest you can get to the moon by walking,’ he said. ‘We came to the summit as dawn broke. It was very, very cold.’

It was third time lucky for the explorer, whose first two attempts at the peak ended in bitter disappointment. In 2005 he suffered heart trouble 1,300ft from the top and last year he turned back at 26,000ft after battling exhaustion.

Sir Ranulph pictured during his unsuccessful 2008 attempt

Despite vowing at the time that he would never attempt the summit again, he soon determined to have one more go – but this time in secret.

Without alerting the public, Sir Ranulph arrived at the base of the mountain early last month and began acclimatising to the rarified air.

He set off from Base Camp on Sunday and reached Camp Four, at 26,000ft, on Wednesday.

After an eight-hour rest he and his guide set off on the final 3,000ft trek to the summit, reaching it at 5am yesterday, local time.

The achievement is all the more remarkable because Sir Ranulph has battled a litany of health problems.

In 2003 he suffered a major heart attack which left him in a coma for three days and needing a triple bypass. But just four months later he ran seven marathons in seven continents in seven days.

He also suffers from vertigo, has battled prostate cancer and lost the fingertips of his left hand to frostbite in 2000. He famously amputated the blackened ends himself with a saw in his garden shed.

Veteran explorer: Sir Ranulph, seen here on the mountain last year, is the first British pensioner to climb Everest

Sir Ranulph was led by the British mountain guide Kenton Cool, 35, who has now climbed the mountain seven times, a British record.

Ian Parnell, who accompanied Sir Ranulph on his first Everest attempt and climbed with him in the Alps, said: ‘It’s an amazing achievement.

'His health was a real weakness at altitude which makes it doubly extraordinary.’

He was hoping to raise £3million for cancer charity Marie Curie after losing his first wife, sister and mother to the disease within 18 months.

Top of the world: At 29,035ft, Mount Everest is the highest point on Earth

Adventurer: Sir Ranulph on a radio telephone during his successful attempt to reach the North Pole in 2004

Over 40 years the former SAS officer has carved a career as one of the world’s top explorers.

Between 1979-82 he circumnavigated the world via both Poles.

Inspiration: Sir Ranulph and his late wife Virginia in 1971

In 1993 he became the first person to cross the Antarctic continent on foot, dragging a 450lb sledge.

He undertook several expeditions to the North Pole in the 1990s while striving to become the first person to reach it solo and unaided.

In 2003 he ran seven marathons in seven days, just four months after his heart attack. And two years ago

he climbed the North Face of the Eiger, one of the hardest challenges in the Alps.

In achieving his ambition yesterday he became the only person to have crossed the ice caps of both Poles, and to have climbed to the highest point on Earth.

And there are undoubtedly other records to come. Last year, Sir Ranulph told an interviewer that he finds the idea of retiring repellent.

‘If I don’t have an expedition planned I’m like a ship without a rudder,’ he said.
Before yesterday, the oldest Briton to scale Everest was Jens Bojen, of Grimsby, who was 62 when he conquered the peak in

2005. Nepal’s Min Bahadur Sherchan claimed to be the oldest person in the world to reach the summit, in May last year. He was 76.
Last edited by Blackleaf; May 24th, 2009 at 12:17 PM..
L Gilbert
Cool, BL. Maybe I'll do something similar in 10 years .... run around the periphery of North Am or something.

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