Most helpful positive review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2015
One of the world's greatest living adventure explorers is Ranulph Fiennes (1944 - ). He may be best known for his polar expeditions, but he has undertaken a variety of physical challenges including ascents of the Eiger North Face and Mount Everest plus river, sea and desert events. He is a prolific writer and has written over 20 books recording his exploits and commenting on associated events. `Cold', subtitled `Extreme Adventures at the Lowest Temperatures on Earth', was first published in 2013 after he was forced out of an attempted Antarctica crossing due to frostbite.
`Cold' concentrates on expeditions and record breaking ventures where cold weather was a determining factor in success or otherwise. Ranulph Fiennes commences with trips to Norway and Greenland, but always with a view to uncharted destinations. A significant portion of his book is the planning, trials and execution of a Transglobe Expedition taking in both North and South poles, but also for separate journeys and crossings of the Arctic and Antarctic involving Canada, Alaska and the Northwest Passage, and even a trip around the world's greatest land mass from Ireland all the way East to Newfoundland. Ranulph Fiennes clearly has a competitive obsession and he has used his adventures to raise millions for charities, but readers will ponder over what were his doubts and fears, and what drove him to put himself in such deep danger and to suffer horrific hardships. What is to be made of his brief mention of 7 marathons on each of the world's 7 continents in 7 days - after heart surgery! There are insights to feelings of apprehension, reactions to isolation, responsibilities etc. where humour often makes light of the mental stress and physical back-breaking demands and punishments endured.
When describing his own approaches to experiences with companions, or solo, or supported, or unsupported etc. Ranulph Fiennes introduces a range of issues. `Cold' incorporates an `Appendix' outlining the history of polar exploration, but throughout the text Ranulph Fiennes comments on the achievements and failures of others, with often gory details of injuries and effects of illnesses due to extreme cold on the human body. He also comments on political intrigue over sovereignty of polar places, competition between explorers, scientific and medical research etc. `Cold' is a compelling and gripping tale, with a couple of sections of telling photographs - but it does lack maps. There is a reasonable representation of the Northwest Passage on the rear endcover, but at the front the two charts of Antarctic and Arctic are too small. Within the narrative there is a crying need for maps or diagrams of various expeditions - both of historical journeys by others and Ranulph Fiennes' own adventures. Apart from this criticism `Cold' is a remarkable and inspirational story celebrating a fulfilled life - in the face of horrific hardships.