I love this story about Ranulph Fiennes…
On the way to the north pole in 2000, Fiennes’ sledge, carrying 70 days’ worth of food and all his communications equipment, slipped into the sea and jammed under a slab of ice. Since he was on his own, he had no alternative but to free it, which meant removing his mitt and reaching into the water. He got the sledge out, but, as he relates in his new, updated and rip-roaringly readable autobiography, within seconds of withdrawing his left hand from the water (roughly -1C) and exposing it to the air (roughly -63C) “my fingers were ramrod stiff and ivory white. They might as well have been wood … I had seen enough frostbite in others to realise I was in serious trouble. I had to turn back.”
Evacuated by air the following day, Fiennes underwent emergency treatment in Ottawa but was told, back in the UK, that he would have to wait five months while the only partially damaged tissue healed and his “gnarled, mummified, witch-like talons” – or the top third of all his fingers, plus the top half of his thumb – could be safely amputated. Worse, he was informed, the pre-op costs were likely to be somewhere in excess of £6,000. (Feel free to skip the next paragraph if you are squeamish.)
So he decided to do the job himself. “I purchased a set of fretsaw blades at the village shop, put the little finger in my Black & Decker folding table’s vice, and gently sawed through the dead skin and bone just above the live skin line,” he writes. “The moment I felt pain or spotted blood, I moved further into the dead zone. I also turned the finger around several times and cut into it from different sides. This worked well, and the little finger’s knuckle finally dropped off after some two hours of work.” It took him five days to do the rest; a job, he says, well done.
I have just one word as a reply to this… “Pussy”.
OK, OK, so he’s officially the World’s Greatest Living Explorer and I am not exactly in his league. However check *this* out…
- Saturday Morning : Alarm clock wakes me at 5am and I spend 3 hours on a change with my esteemed Indian colleagues. What a surprise the change didn’t work.
- Sunday Morning : I wake at 6am and decide to go for my long run. Yes, 6am! In the morning! Practically in the night! And I managed 18miles which is the equivalent of running from Chichester to Gosport (although god knows why anyone would want to go there)
So, pretty damned impressive eh! Walking to both Poles, pfff. Being in the S.A.S. pffff, climbing Everest at 65 even though he suffers from vertigo, pffff. Chopping your own fingers off with a saw, pfffff. Having a heart attack and subsequently having a double heart bypass and then four months later running 7 marathons in 7 days pffffffffff.
Actually, jesus bloody christ he’s amazing isn’t he. Even his name is more impressive… Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes. Damn the man!
However, I still ran 18miles.