Beyond the limits: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know – Ranulph Fiennes

By Matthias / 28summits on 2013.12.03 In Outdoor media - Books

Except for planning the next trip and watching great outdoor films, I like to spend the time in between adventures with reading books about other great adventures and explorers. So in the times when I cannot share with you reports of my adventures, I want to share with you my favorite stories about adventures and experiences done by the great explorers and athletes of our time. I wanna kick this off with the autobiography of one of my personal heroes: Ranulph Fiennes.

The autobiography is titled “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know”. These words have once been used by Lady Caroline Lamb to describe Lord Byron, one of the greatest British poets, that she had an affair with. In the case of this book however, the words have been used by the father of Ranulph Fiennes’ first wife and childhood sweetheart Ginny to describe the kind of man Ranulph Fiennes was in his eyes.Ranulph Fiennes
Under creative commons license some rights reserved by Chris Boland (www.distantcloud.co.uk)

The life story of Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes is long, exciting and in a lot of details explained in this book. This is why I will not go into to much detail here. After he followed his father’s footsteps into military service for several years, Ranulph Fiennes started a lifetime of adventures and expeditions. Through these endeavors he earned the title of world’s greatest living explorer according to the Guiness Book of World Records. Among the different expeditions he underwent one of the most notable is maybe the Transglobe Expedition. This expedition took him and Charles Burton one time around the world crossing both poles while only traveling by surface means. In 2003, following the idea of his long term expedition companion Mike Stroud, they ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, just a few months after Fiennes had a heart bypass operation. Among other things Ranulph Fiennes successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest in 2009, at the age of 65, making him the oldest British person that reached both poles and the summit of the highest mountain in the world.

In this book Ranulph Fiennes describes the different stations of his life and the expeditions he undertook in a wonderfully direct manner. I really like his straightforward style of writing and basically devoured the book in just two days, because I just could not put it aside. The different stories can hardly capture what this man has achieved and inspire me to push my own limits. It comprises several tips and advice on everything from expedition planning, choice of expedition partner to the handling of extreme and often life-threatening situations.

I can really recommend this book to anyone who is interested in expeditions, the polar regions or great explorers. This is the only book I read by him so far, but his other book “My Heroes: Extraordinary Courage, Exceptional People” comes recommended from a friend and his biography of Captain Scott is also high on my list of books to read in the future. For everyone that is still not convinced to read about this great explorer, here is a wonderful talk he gave in 2012. Take the time, it is worth it:

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About me

This blog is about my 28Summits Challenge with the goal of reaching the highest points of each member state of the European Union.


My name is Matthias, I am 28 years old. Growing up close to the Alps I have been hiking basically all my life. I love being outdoors and exploring the nature. When I am not doing this I am working in media management or follow up on my other passion of cooking and baking.

On this site I will share my experiences along the road to achieve the challenge I set myself. Furthermore, I will blog about my other hiking trips as well as media about the outdoors.

/ Matthias



My hiking companions blog about hiking and traveling in the North:

Travel North

Yummy and healthy vegetarian food:

Green Kitchen Stories

My favorite baking blog (only in Swedish):


Outdoor shops

Here goes my favourite online shop for outdoor gear and clothing (shipping to EU countries and some more):

Shop equipment for climbing, mountain sports and the outdoors at Bergfreunde.de

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