Ranulph Fiennes has entered the public imagination as the intrepid explorer par excellance. Taunted by his wife over the challenge of the never-before attempted circumpolar navigation of the globe, he set off in 1979 on a gruelling 52,000 mile adventure. Together with fellow members of 21 SAS regiment, Fiennes left from Greenwich, travelling over land, passing through both ends of the polar axis. Completed over three years later, it was the first circumpolar navigation of the globe, and justifiably entered Fiennes into the record books.
TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH is the record of that journey. It captures the natural beauty of the landscapes they passed through, and the cameraderie that necessarily grows between men who had served in the British forces' elite regiment and were now throwing themselves into danger of a different sort. Time and again, the expedition found themselves in life-threatening situations, weaving through the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean or sharing a single sleeping bag to ward off the -40 degrees celsius Arctic night. The calm and measured approach which made Fiennes such a great expedition leader shines through TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH, deftly recreating the last unexplored regions on earth.
It is also a book which lays the foundations for what was to come for Fiennes, confirming a need to exist outside the comfortable norms the rest of us inhabit. As the expedition progresses, there is also a mounting sense of tension as attainment of the final goal also spells the end of the adventure. TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH is a compelling account of one journey and Fiennes' drive to push himself to ever further extremes.