Sir Ranulph Fiennes
Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet OBE (born 7
March 1944), usually known simply as Ranulph (Ran) Fiennes, is a
British adventurer and holder of several endurance records. He
was the first man to visit both the north and south poles by
land and the first man to completely cross the Antarctic by
Fiennes was born in England shortly after the death of his
father, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes,
2nd Baronet, who was killed in action in the Second World War at
Monte Cassino in 1943. On his birth Fiennes inherited his
father's baronetcy, becoming the 3rd Baronet. After the war his
mother moved the family to South Africa where he remained until
he was 12. Ranulph then returned to be educated at Eton, after
which he joined the British Army.
Ranulph Fiennes married his childhood sweetheart Virginia Pepper
("Ginny") in 1970; the two remained married until her death in
February 2004. He has since remarried.
He is the third cousin of Hollywood film actors Joseph and Ralph
Fiennes, and is a distant cousin of Britain's royal family.
Despite having almost no acting experience, Ranulph Fiennes was
on the shortlist to replace Sean Connery in the role of James
Bond. Fiennes was summarily rejected on meeting Bond producer
Cubby Broccoli, who said his hands were too big and he had "a
face like a farmer". Fiennes owns and operates a sheep and
cattle farm near Dulverton on Exmoor.
Fiennes served eight years in the British army — in his father's
regiment, the Royal Scots Greys — and was later seconded to the
Special Air Service, where he specialised in demolitions. He
admitted in his autobiography to cheating on the notoriously
harsh SAS endurance test known as the Long Drag.
Service life was enlivened by various scrapes and escapades,
including an occasion when Fiennes and a brother officer
procured a very lively, squirming piglet, smothered it with tank
grease and slipped it into the crowded ballroom of the army's
Staff College, Camberley. On another occasion, offended by the
construction of an ugly concrete dam built by a US film company
for the production of the film Doctor Dolittle in the Wiltshire
village of Castle Combe — reputedly the prettiest village in
England — Fiennes demolished the dam. He used explosives which
he later claimed to have obtained legitimately from the armoury.
Using skills from a recently completed training course on
evading search dogs by night, he escaped capture, but he and a
guilty colleague were both subsequently traced. After a court
case, Fiennes had to pay a hefty fine but he and his
co-conspirator were discharged from the SAS. Fiennes was
initially posted to another cavalry regiment but was then
allowed to return to his regiment.
Becoming disillusioned by his British Army service, in
particular his career prospects, he spent the last two years of
his service seconded to the army of the Sultan of Oman. At the
time, Oman was a British protectorate with a growing communist
insurgency supported from neighbouring South Yemen. Fiennes had
a crisis of conscience soon after arriving in Oman, as he became
aware of the Sultan's poor government. However he decided that
the oppression threatened by a communist takeover, combined with
moves towards progressive change within the Sultanate system,
justified his part in the conflict. After familiarisation, he
commanded the Reconnaissance Platoon of the Muscat Regiment,
seeing extensive active service in the Dhofar Rebellion. He led
several raids deep into rebel-held territory on the Djebel
Dhofar and was decorated for bravery by the Sultanate.
Since the 1960s Fiennes has been an adventurer. He led
expeditions up the White Nile on a hovercraft in 1969 and on
Norway's Jostedalsbreen Glacier in 1970. Perhaps his most famous
trek was the Transglobe Expedition he undertook from 1979 until
1982. Fiennes, Oliver Shepard and Charles Burton journeyed
around the world on its polar axis using surface transport only,
covering 52,000 miles and becoming the first people to have
visited both poles by land. 
In 1992 Fiennes led an expedition that discovered the lost city
of Ubar in Oman. The following year he joined nutrition
specialist Mike Stroud in an attempt to become the first to
cross Antarctica unaided. Having crossed the continent in 90
days, they were forced to call for a pick-up on the Ross Ice
Shelf, frostbitten and starving, on day 95.
In 2000, he attempted to walk solo and unsupported to the North
Pole. The expedition failed when his sleds fell through weak ice
and Fiennes was forced to pull them out by hand. He sustained
severe frostbite to the tips of all the fingers on his left
hand, forcing him to abandon the attempt. On returning home, his
surgeon insisted the necrotic fingertips be retained for several
months (to allow regrowth of the remaining healthy tissue)
before amputation. Impatient at the pain the dying fingertips
caused, Fiennes removed them himself (in his garden shed) with a
Despite suffering from a heart attack and undergoing a double
heart bypass operation just four months before, Fiennes joined
Stroud again in 2003 to carry out the extraordinary feat of
completing seven marathons in seven days on seven continents in
the Land Rover 7x7x7 Challenge for the British Heart Foundation.
26th October - Race 1: Patagonia, South America
27th October - Race 2: Falkland Islands, "Antarctica"
28th October - Race 3: Sydney, Australia
29th October - Race 4: Singapore, Asia
30th October - Race 5: London, Europe
31st October - Race 6: Cairo, Africa
1st November - Race 7: New York, North America
Originally Fiennes had planned to run the first marathon on King
George Island, Antarctica. The second marathon would then have
taken place in Santiago, Chile. However, bad weather and
aeroplane engine trouble caused him to change his plans, running
the South American segment in southern Patagonia first and then
hopping to the Falklands as a substitute for the Antarctic leg.
Speaking after the event, Fiennes said the Singapore marathon
had been by far the most difficult because of high humidity and
pollution. He also said his cardiac surgeon had approved the
marathons, providing his heart-rate did not exceed a 130 beats
per minute; Fiennes later confessed to having forgotten to pack
his heart-rate monitor, and as such does not know how fast his
heart was beating.
Fiennes reached 28,500ft in a 2005 attempt to climb Everest. He
has joined the Victoria Falls Expedition, celebrating the 150th
Anniversary of David Livingstone's discovery of Victoria Falls
(this expedition started on 2 November, and originally took
David Livingstone four years).
In March 2007, despite a morbid, lifelong fear of heights,
Fiennes undertook a personal challenge to climb the Eiger by its
much-feared North Face, with sponsorship totalling £1.5 million
to be paid to the Marie Curie Cancer Care Delivering Choice
Fiennes's career as an author has developed alongside that of
explorer. He is the author of 13 books in fiction and
non-fiction. In 2003 he published a biography of Captain Robert
Scott which proved a robust defence of Scott's achievements and
reputation which had been strongly questioned by biographers
such as Roland Huntford. Although others have made comparisons
between Fiennes and Scott, Fiennes says he identifies more with
Captain Oates, another member of Scott's doomed Antarctic team.
His works include:
* Where Soldiers Fear to Tread, (1975), ISBN 0-3401-4754-7,
account of service in the Dhofar Rebellion.
* To The Ends of the Earth (1983) ISBN 0-340-25277-4, account of
the Transglobe Expedition.
* Living Dangerously (1987) ISBN 0-7515-0434-3, autobiography.
* The Feathermen (1992) ISBN 0-7475-1049-0
* Atlantis of the Sands: The Search for the Lost City of Ubar
(1992) ISBN 0-451-17577-8
* Mind Over Matter: The Epic Crossing of the Antarctic Continent
(1993) ISBN 0-385-31216-4
* The Sett (1996) ISBN 0-434-00267-4, fiction
* Beyond the Limits (2000) ISBN 0-316-85458-1
* Captain Scott (2003) ISBN 0-340-82699-1, account of Robert
Falcon Scott's south polar expeditions.
* The Secret Hunters (2001) ISBN 0-316-85869-2, http://www.crevassefilms.com/
Fiennes stood for the Countryside Party in the 2004 European
elections in the South West England region — fourth on their
list of six. The party received only 30,824 votes — insufficient
for any of their candidates to be elected.
He is also a council member of the libertarian pressure group
The Freedom Association.
In 1970, while serving with the Omani Army, Fiennes received the
Sultan's Bravery Medal. In 1983 he was awarded an honorary
doctorate by Loughborough University, and later received the
Royal Geographical Society's Founders Medal. In 2007, he was
awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the University
of Abertay Dundee.
Fiennes was appointed OBE in 1993 "for human endeavour and for
charitable services" — his expeditions have raised £5 million
for good causes. In 1995 he was awarded the Polar Medal - he is
the only person ever to receive a bar to this award, having
visited both poles.
In a 2007 Top Gear special, the presenters travelled to the
Magnetic North Pole in a car. Sir Ranulph was given recognition
by having his name placed before every surname in the closing
credits: "Sir Ranulph Clarkson, Sir Ranulph Hammond, Sir Ranulph
JACANA HOME PAGE
CLASSIC VIDEO CLIPS
JACANA ASTRONOMY SITE
JACANA PHOTO LIBRARY |
OLD MAUN PHOTO GALLERY |
MAUN PHONE DIRECTORY
FREE FONTS |
PIC OF THE DAY
GENERAL LIBRARY |
MAP LIBRARY |
HOUSE PLANS LIBRARY
MAUN E-MAIL, WEBSITE & SKYPE LIST
BOTSWANA GPS CO-ORDINATES
MAUN SAFARI WEB LINKS |
FREE SOFTWARE |
JACANA WEATHER PAGE
JACANA CROSSWORD LIBRARY |
JACANA CARTOON PAGE |
This web page was last updated on:
10 December, 2008