Archive for the ‘extreme sports personalities’ Category


We’re moving to our new domain!!!

July 9, 2009

So exciting, we have finally matured from a blog to a website! I feel so grown-up! Please don’t desert us, follow this link and we’ll continue where we left off…


In praise of Chris Sharma – one of climbing’s most extreme talents

July 6, 2009

“I’m still a bit confused over the grade. It’s definitely harder than Papichulo and all the other F9a+ routes I’ve done in Spain but I’m not sure if it’s F9b… the resistant style of climbing on the route isn’t quite the best style for me and I can imagine other people being better suited… For now I’d say it’s hard F9a+”

Chris Sharma

Chris Sharma climbing Pachamama F9a+, 195 kb

I love rock climbing, and I love writing about it. Today I thought I’d draw your attention to, if you don’t already know, a really extreme rock climber – CHRIS SHARMA.

Here’s a weird upside-down video of a veritable spiderman redpointing La Rambla, brought to us by ezsraism

Sharma started rock climbing when he was 12 years old. At age 14 he won the Bouldering nationals. A year later, he completed a 5.14c climb, which was the highest-rated climb in the American rating system at the time.  He has since established or completed a few routes thought to be 5.15, including La Rambla and Es Pontas (a deep water soloing project in Mallorca). In 2008 Sharma climbed the 250 ft line, Jumbo Love, at Clark Mountain in California, claiming 5.15b for the grade. He has just completed a new 9a+/5.15a project in Oliana, Spain called Pachamama.

Picking projects at your physical and mental limits means constant exposure to the reality of failure. But failure is a word that has no place in Sharma’s vocabulary.

In professional climbing talent burns hot and fast and a decade is a long time. The physical damage to the body can be huge – ankles snap, shoulders pop from sockets and fingers calcify. And if nagging injuries weren’t enough, climbers often falter beneath the mental pressure. But not Chris Sharma.

At 26, he is an athlete endowed with unparalleled physical strength and mental tenacity, dominating world sport climbing and bouldering for the last dozen years.

In his own words, Chris Sharma about himself (bigupproductions)


Extreme Dreams, extreme people, extreme challenge – what else could we be talking about but Ben Fogle and the Mongol Derby

June 17, 2009

Ben Fogle is atypical of our site. He challenges every aspect of life and seems to have a lot of fun doing it. As far as extreme sports go – he pretty well does them all…

So who exactly is he? He is a Presenter, Writer and Adventurer. His achievements include racing 160 miles across the Sahara desert in the notorious Marathon Des Sables. He has rowed the Atlantic Ocean in 49 days and crossed Antarctica in a foot race to the South Pole. That’s just for starters…

Rowing 2006 (001)

He has presented numerous television programmes including Extreme Dreams and as well as writing regularly for the Sunday Telegraph and The Independent, he has written four best-selling books.

He is also an ambassador for WWF, Medecins Sans Frontier and Tusk. He’s a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the President of the Campaign for National Park’s.

And he’s only 35 years old…

His next testing task is going to be the Mongol Derby – the longest, toughest horse race on earth. He’ll ride 1,000 kms accompanied by 25 horses, for which he will be personally responsible. “It’s already giving me sleepless nights,” he says with a grin,but if I didn’t do what I do, I’d be like a caged animal.”

So, what exactly is the Mongol Derby?

It’s “a race so big it would make Roman Emperors go weak at the knees.”

Great description that isn’t it. But I’ll give you more… including one of the rider’s introductory video on the Derby – Charles van Wyk (CvWMD ):

The idea for “the race” comes from Genghis Khan’s  incredible postal system – and we’re talking many many years ago, somewhere around the turn of the 12th century.

When he ‘ruled the world’ he realised the importance of being in touch, and knowing exactly what was happening and where. So he took the existing ancient and rather small network of horse messengers and supercharged it, creating a mind-bendingly efficient relay system of horse-stations that enabled his messengers to go faster than the speed of light itself. With horses stationed every 30 to 40 km it’s said he could get a message from Mongolia to Eastern Europe in just fourteen days. That would probably beat today’s postal system!

This year, 2009, some bold adventurists have decided to emulate this great but forgotten postal service,  resurrect the horse-stations and gather 800 horses to create the mother of all races.

The Mongol Derby will tackle the challenge of semi-wild horses and surviving alone in the wild steppes of Mongolia. There’s no carefully marked course, no catering tent and no support; this is horse racing on a whole new scale. You will change steed every 40 km so the horses will be fresh.

The nature of the Mongol Derby means it is the rider under stress not the horse. Traditional Mongolian horses are an extremely tough breed that has changed little since the Mongol Hordes swept across Asia on their backs in the early thirteenth century. They range in size from 12 to 14 hands high and roam the vast Mongolian steppe all year round. As the Mongol Derby will be run across wild terrain, not roads, the horses will be unshod as they always are.

A Mongolian horse (with trimmed mane) in traditional riding gear

Humans are not so tough. Bleeding kidneys, broken limbs, open sores, sun stroke, moon stroke and a list of dangers longer than your arm stand between the you and victory!

Now, for some of you who might be yearning to take part in this race, when does it happen?

The warm up

Pre-race Meeting, UK
Date and location to be confirmed Afternoon tea and talk with a renowned explorer.

Pre-race Training, Mongolia
20 & 21 August 2009
Two-day training extravaganza with former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody.

Launch Party
21 August 2009
Mighty send-off from Kharkhorin, the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire. Feasting, dancing, fermented mare’s milk and Mongolian merry-making galore.

The race

Race Start
22 August 2009
Riders gallop forth into the wilderness.

Midway Party
29 August 2009
Catch up with your fellow racers and spin yarns of wrestles with wolves.

Closing Ceremonies
5 September 2009
Bathe in the glory of completing the world’s longest and toughest horse race. Riders will be lauded as pioneers and their names etched in adventuring history.

It costs  US$4,550 in total. However, don’t despair – you could always try for sponsorship and raise money for your favourite charity at the same time.

Additional costs will be the airfare to Mongolia, a single-entry Mongolian visa, and hotel costs before and after the race.

As the race approaches you will be able to track the riders live through an interactive map. The route starts in the Khentii Aimag, at Delgerhaan and ends at Kharkhorin, Chinggis Khaan’s capital, 1000km later.

The organisers of The Mongol Derby, in partnership wtih Tengri, have issued the following warning:


Before you even consider applying for this race we want to point out how dangerous the Mongol Derby is, and how dangerous the sport of horse riding is.

And when we talk about horse riding, we don’t just mean getting on a horse you are familiar with at home. We mean riding a series of unfamiliar horses across wild Mongolian terrain. By taking part in this race you are greatly increasing your risk of severe physical damage. You could break limbs, suffer internal injuries, become paralysed or even die. Please do not underestimate the extreme nature of the Mongol Derby.

I am afraid that, having given you details of costs etc, entrance to this race is now closed for 2009. However, just around the corner is 2010 and with some planning you could be one of the handful of riders in the next race…

Watch this space – I’ll keep you updated on this fantastic and extreme endurance race.


Congratulations are in order to Major Phil Packer

June 12, 2009

Our congratulations go to Phil Packer for summiting El Capitan successfully.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, page down or go to ‘extreme personalities’ in our sidebar and read my first article on this courageous and inspirational man, although this quick video from andrew3631 will help:

Having been paralysed when the vehicle he was traveling in, in Iraq, was hit by a rocket, Packer decided that life was not going to stop there, and having run the London Marathon, rowed across the English Channel, amongst other things, his final challenge to raise £1 million pounds for the charity he firmly believes in, ‘Help for Heroes’, was to summit El Capitan’s 3000 vertical feet in Yosemite National Park.

A seemingly impossible challenge one might imagine, seeing that many able-bodied people don’t manage it.

But, pulling himself up with his arms only, Phil Packer has achieved the impossible – he summited El Cap in just 5 days.

He has also raised more than his initial £1 million gaol.

A hero himself and one worth emulating. So don’t whinge about life. Most of us have it really good. Get out there and prove yourself… if only to yourself.

Thank you to itnnews for the video and sorry I haven’t been able to get the one where he goes over the top – refusing help to the end, but it hasn’t yet made it onto YouTube…


A man who sets himself one challenge after another against extraodinary odds, to raise money to help others…

June 8, 2009

You might have heard of Major Phil Packer… the man who was paralysed in February last year when the vehicle he was in was hit by a rocket in Iraq. He suffered broken ribs and a crushed lower spine. He was the man who was told he would never walk again and yet he finished the London marathon, albeit painfully slowly, but remember – 18 months before the doctors said he would never get out of a wheelchair.

We like talking about extreme personalities and this is one man who is definitely worth a mention or two. Thanks to AffiliAid for this introductory video:

Phil Packer says: “From the original prognosis that I would never walk again, I have been very lucky and my injuries have improved. I set out to raise £1million by completing a number of challenges including 3 Main Events; Rowing the Channel, walking the London Marathon, and pulling myself up a Mountain. El Capitan is the last event before I concentrate on providing opportunities for people with disabilities and raising the profile of disability sports. I will travel to the USA during the first two weeks in June and with the expertise & support of Andy Kirkpatrick, Ian Parnell and Paul Tatersal, will pull myself up 1800ft in 3 days”.

A quick excerpt of Maj. Phil Packer completing the London Marathon (6MadeInEngland9):

and how he has successfully got others involved in his charity efforts (AffiliAid)

Packer started his 1,800 ft climb up the sheer rock face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park yesterday, 8th June.

His ascent of El Cap. is being attempted despite the fact that he was told he would never walk again.

Major Packer, who lives in Westminster, London, has said the three-day climb will be his final fundraising campaign before concentrating his efforts on promoting opportunities for disabled people.

Climbing a  rock face would be a challenge most of us would balk at but with a characteristic display of courage over disability, Major Packer is determined to conquer the face that many able-bodied people have failed to do.

Pulling yourself up with your arms (the equivalent of doing more than 4,000 push-ups) is a painfully slow way to scale a rock face and though he’s in constant pain since the rocket attack last year, it’s not enough to discourage him from taking up this challenge.

He wants to prove that his disability is no bar to rock climbing even though he’s no fan of its dizzying heights.

Unseasonable rain over the Yosemite Valley won’t make his task any easier though experience suggests this trifling inconvenience  won’t interrupt his attempt.

He and his team are climbing to support ‘Help for Heroes’ and to raise awareness of Disabled Climbing Opportunites.

El Capitan Pic

Packer’s live update of his climb states: “Great day, currently at 250 meters. Very tough, arms are tired, but every pull up is one pull up nearer the top. Passed Pitch 6 out of 16. Sleeping on a portaledge tonight.”

Having attempted and completed a marathon, kayaked, sky-dived with the Red Devils and accepted El Cap’s challenge,  Major Phil Packer is, in our opinion, the perfect candidate as one of our extreme sports personalities.

To find out more about him, or if you would like to contribute to his fund-raising efforts, please go to:

His is a noble cause and I will keep you posted on the climb…


Diving with sharks – an extreme pastime

June 1, 2009

This is something we do not recommend to all and sundry, but Michael Rutzen from South Africa, otherwise known as ‘Sharkman’, seems to get away with it. He has turned the art of scuba diving and snorkeling into a seriously extreme sport.

Rutzen eats, sleeps, breathes and dreams of sharks and is on a one-man crusade to prove that rather than being the crazed man-eater from “Jaws”, they are in fact sociable and approachable creatures – to anyone who understands their body language. brettlock screened this video for us.

He loves sharks. He has an empathy with them, an appreciation of the magnificent beast that they are, and he is keen to show everyone the other side to one of the world’s most fearsome creatures.

Michael Rutzen at Work.

He started out as a fisherman, but as tourism grew in his coastal region he became a boat skipper taking tourists out into the ocean to see Great White’s. It was at this point that he learned to love the fish.

He learned how to freedive with sharks from Andre Hartman and then learned how to adopt his posture and interpret the sharks behaviour to avoid being attacked.

Mike eventually opened up his own shark boat for cage diving. His company Shark Diving Unlimited has since become the world’s first to offer a PADI specialisation qualification on white sharks.

When asked exactly what it was he was trying to prove with his research and his shark cage diving business, Mike said: “I would like to get people out there and teach them a little bit about this animal if possible. Try to let them go away with a little bit of positive knowledge and respect for the sharks. If we can achieve that little thing, these animals will be here for a long time. Because all the animals on earth that died out, nobody knew about until they got into a book that says ‘extinct’, and these Sharks that have survived all these millions of years, they deserve to be here.”

He has appeared in his own television show for the Discovery Channel – called Sharkman. In the program he toured the world diving with different species of sharks and demonstrated their tonic immobility reflex (DiscoveryNetworks ).

He has dedicated his life to the study of sharks and the Great White in particular. The Great White is unanimously considered the most dangerous and fierce shark on the planet. Although there is proof that the Great White is dangerous and capable of deadly attacks on humans there isn’t a lot of evidence that they are man eaters as shown in the movie “Jaws”.

Michael has been working to dispel this ideology about the Great White.

He is, however, under no illusions that it is a dangerous and unpredictable creature and he takes no unneccessary risks. “There is only one proven fact about White Sharks, most probably all sharks but White Sharks in particular, and that is that they are highly unpredictable. You can get methods of doing something that usually works one way and then you get Sharks that prove you totally wrong, and that’s in every interaction you do with the animals. That’s the odds you take. Sometimes it works to your advantage and sometimes it’s very much to your disadvantage, like I have found out a few times when I was cut,” he says.

He is quick to caution anyone who thinks they can hop into the ocean to have a closer look at this great fish. He is a highly trained professional and doesn’t want anyone to get hurt trying to do what he does unless they have been trained and educated for years and know how to free dive properly with sharks. He does NOT recommend freediving with sharks for tourists or thrill seekers as “we cannot train our tourists fast enough to learn all there is to know.”

Please bear that in mind!


Congratulations to Ranulph Fiennes and his Everest conquest

May 23, 2009

Here’s another one for our extreme sports personalities – Ranulph Fiennes, or, more correctly, Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes – a British explorer extroadinaire and the holder of several endurance records. According to the Guinness Book of Records he is the greatest living adventurer.

Ranulph Fiennes

This is what this extroadinary man has accomplished in his 65 years:

  • 1969 Travels the length of the White Nile by hovercraft
  • 1970 Traverses Norway’s Jostedalsbreen Glacier
  • 1979 to 1982 Travels globe on its polar axis by land transport
  • 1992 Discovers lost city of Ubar
  • 1993 Attempts to cross the Antarctic unaided
  • 2000 On solo walk to North Pole his sleds fall through ice
  • 2003 Four months after double heart bypass, he does seven marathons in    seven days
  • 2005 Attempt on Everest ends when he has a heart attack
  • 2007 Climbs north face of Eiger
  • 2008 Exhaustion ends a second attempt on Everest
  • 2009 Reaches Everest summit

He attempted Everest 3 times. The first time, in 2005, he had a heart attack 300m from the summit. The second time he was forced back at 8,400 metres, suffering from exhaustion. Afterwards he declared: “I won’t be returning to Everest.”

But defeat is simply not in his vocabulary, and despite everything he set off again. Just before 1 a.m. Thursday, 21st May, he became the oldest Briton and first UK pensioner to climb the 8,850 metre peak.

It is hard to believe, after his conquest of Everest and the north face of the Eiger, that this is a man who is morbidly afraid of heights.

Fiennes continues to compete in UK based endurance events and has seen recent success in the Veteran categories of some Mountain marathon races. His training nowadays consists of regular two hour runs around Exmoor.

He’s also an accomplished author. If you’re looking for a REALLY good read, try ‘The Feathermen’ – it’ll keep you spellbound.