Sir Ranulph Fiennes Pulls Plug on Aconcagua Summit Attempt

Monte Aconcagua

It looks like Sir Ranulph Fiennes will have to wait a little bit longer to complete his attempt to complete the Adventurers Grand Slam. According to the BBC, the 72-year old British explorer has had to abandon his attempt to summit Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in South America, after experiencing severe back pain during the final stages of the expedition. Fiennes says that he is “very frustrated” by the situation.

The climb was part of Fiennes – who has been called “the world’s greatest living explorer” – attempt to join the elite club of men and women who have reached both the North and South Poles, as well as topped out on the Seven Summits. He has undertaken this challenge to raise funds for the Marie Curie Foundation, which has been a frequent recipient of his charity work over the years. To date, he has summited Everest, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, and Vinson. That would leave him with Denali and Carstensz Pyramid, in addition to Aconcagua.

According to reports, Sir Ran was within just a few hours of the 6961-meter (22,841 ft) summit of Aconcagua, which is not only the highest peak in South America, but the tallest outside of the Himalaya too. But, the explorer was in too much pain to continue upwards, and had to be assisted back down the mountain instead. He was then air lifted to Mendoza, Argentina, where he is reportedly in good condition. He’ll now head home to the U.K. to consult with his doctor before proceeding any further with his plans.

In embarking on this challenge, Fiennes hoped to become the first person to traverse both polar ice caps and complete the Seven Summits. You may recall that he earned his stripes as an explorer by visiting the coldest places on the planet on multiple occasions. He has come to mountaineering a bit late in life, not summiting Everest until 2009 at the age of 66. Later he would add summits of Kilimanjaro and Everest, before embarking on what he calls the Global Reach Challenge in 2016. Whether or not he’ll continue with those efforts remains to be seen, but considering his resume, I would assume that unless this is a very serious injury, he’ll be back at it as soon as possible.

Get well soon Sir Fiennes.

Kraig Becker