I have long been an admirer of Feinnes and his adventures and very much enjoy reading about how such people pit their delicate bodies against the forces of nature.
I enjoyed a previous book ‘Mind over Matter’ which told the story of his crossing of Antarctica. In ‘Cold’ Feinnes recaps through all his cold journeys.
The first major expedition that he organised and led himself was the Transglobe expedition travelling around the globe via the poles and begins with the huge obstacles presented getting such a journey approved and sponsored. That is a daunting task in itself and years in the making. Very ably teamed with his late wife, Ginny, the two set about the huge task of making the expedition happen. What comes through time and again is how these solo or small team expeditions can’t happen without the help and expertise of a lot of people. Feinnes emphasises this at every turn. But when the expedition finally happens it’s the grit and tenacity (and a little bit of luck -or sometimes a lot) of the expeditions members that win the day.
Feinnes and the people he had worked with certainly do have grit in huge measures. His account of his attempts to summit Everest and his subsequent success in that endeavour are also a grim reminder of the many people who have failed and paid the ultimate price. Many have died in places beyond any hope of rescue and their bodies remain.
The book is also a wonderful history lesson of earlier explorers and their missions to map the world. I found myself going back and forth to remind myself of some of that history as Feinnes talked about his modern-day journeys. His stories of hardship and the sheer effort for humans to survive in the world’s cold places make for illuminating reading and, of course Ranulph Feinnes has made millions for charities along the way.