They say age is just a number. Apparently, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, along with his propensity for general badassery, set out to prove that was true.
Crazy Ranulph Fiennes
There comes a moment when the pursuit and endeavor of manliness come to an intersection crossed by Batshit Avenue. Travel down that road about 183.4 miles, take a knee and sip water. Then continue another 249.6 miles before taking a potty break, you quivering child, and finish the last leg of 3,000 miles. We’ll examine these numbers later on. There you’ll find Sir Ranulph Fiennes. This former British SAS and current badass makes Bear Grylls piss himself before he even has a chance to drink it.
Born for Danger
Ranulph “Ran” Fiennes was born in 1944 to a British Lieutenant Colonel who died shortly after his sons birth. The elder Fiennes died from complications suffered while playing hopscotch on a German anti-personnel mine during his tour fighting tyranny in Italy. Ran, who has distant relations to the Royal Family (because of frickin’ course he would), joined the British SAS after serving in the same regiment his father commanded. His specialty? Demolitions, because again, why the hell wouldn’t he?
Crazy Ranulph’s Crazy Career
When he wasn’t too busy lathering piglets in tank grease and releasing said piglets at the British Army’s Staff College in Cambridge, Ran could be found rigging local dams with explosives. In a dual attempt to stick it to that cocky little Dutch boy from your childhood stories, Ran saw the dam – constructed for the movie Dr. Doolittle – as a blemish on his pretty English countryside. When the explosives were discovered by military working dogs, Ran evaded their attempts to apprehend him and detonated it anyway. Fiennes was actually considered in playing the role of James Bond. Roger Moore got the part because the wanted ad read “actor wanted” not “actual badass wanted.”
Ran was traced, tried, fined, and discharged from service. Kinda. Since the antics of a crazy man is best to have on your side, the British government allowed Ran to continue to serve as an advisor to the Sultanate of Oman. There, Fiennes essentially created the Oman Army and embarked on numerous raid missions during the Dhofar Rebellion. In 1971 Ran relinquished his commission for a life of adventure.
Crazy Ranulph’s Crazier Hobbies
Fiennes kicked off his retirement in the way we all want to when we collect on our 401k’s: by circumnavigating the world’s poles. Not what you were thinking? That’s because you’re an amoeba with no ambition. Ran and two fellow SAS members became the first – and only – humans to travel around the world via the north and south poles using only surface based transportation. A trip totaling nearly 3,000 miles. Returning to Oman in 1992, Ran would lead an expedition that rediscovered the lost city of Iram, referred to as the “Atlantis of the Sands”. Taking some time off from his daily routine of badassery, Fiennes decided to take a long introspective walk to clear his head. Across Antarctica. Unsupported. In only 93 days. You couldn’t even get through Ranger School as a first time GO. Pansy.
And if that hasn’t solidified Ranulph Fiennes as a certified BAMF, he decided to do it again. This time, a kidney stone proved Ran’s mortality and delayed the trip. Shoving rocks through your pee-hole will do that to ya…I guess. As an F-U to his kidney, in 2000 Ran attempted to a solo trek to the North Pole. He suffered extreme frostbite on his hands and, since Bernie Sanders wasn’t running around throwing money at everyone’s health care expenses back then, Ran took the DIY mentality to his injury and amputated his fingers right there in the Arctic Circle. I like to think Ran is an ardent believer in the “ounces equals pounds” methodology to backpacking and was just thinking he could spare the weight (learn how to backpack like Crazy Ran in my camping like a man article).
Run, Fiennes, Run! Okay, stop…you’re going too far. Please?
In 2003 Fiennes’ heart had enough of his bullshit death wishes and decided enough was enough. He suffered a heart attack and had to undergo a double-bypass surgery. But even Ranulph Fiennes can’t kill Ranulph Fiennes. Flipping the bird to his still recovering heart, Ran decided four months post surgery is a good time to run seven marathons in 7 days on seven different continents. A journey of 183.4 miles.
In 2009, after a long research venture into what kind of gloves he should wear, Ran decided to climb Mount Everest. Fiennes is the only person(?) who has ever crossed both polar ice caps and climbed the worlds highest summit. Most recently, at the young age of 71, Ran crossed the Sahara desert in a 249.6 ultra marathon, deciding he would no longer have to worry about mittens for once.
Are Death Wishes Manly?
What is it that pulls men towards danger? Almost inevitably every young lad, grappling with his masculinity, will do something life threatening for a little extra testosterone buzz. Whether it’s doing a flip that you can’t even land on a trampoline off of a 60+ foot cliff or doing donuts in an icy parking lot in your ’94 Ford Explorer while your unbuckled youngest brother screams with his face plastered against the window (cough, Christian).
There is just something inherently manly about doing dangerous and, more often, dumb shit. Sir Ranulph “Ran” Fiennes takes this observation to a whole new level. But when someone accomplishes the endeavors he has it transcends the “dumbass” level and into the “truly badass”. I’m not sure what the difference between the two is. Maybe it’s that his craziness is equally noble. Every expedition was an attempt to raise money for children’s foundations and heart research institutes. Maybe it’s simply that the things he was doing are outside the realm of comprehension when we first hear it. I think it boils down to this; he has lived a full life. He has pushed the bounds of human accomplishment, suffered great pains and more than his fair share of hold-my-beer moments. Truly, he is the physical embodiment of manliness.