MIND OVER MATTER: The Epic Crossing of the Antarctic Continent by Ranulph Fiennes

MIND OVER MATTER: The Epic Crossing of the Antarctic Continent

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The world's greatest explorer"" bruises his way across Antarctica on foot, and without any external support, thank you very much. Fiennes (The Feather Men, 1993) is well-known in polar circles for having made numerous firsts: Pole-to-Pole circumnavigation, trans-Antarctic crossing, unsupported journey to the South Pole. Here he recounts, in his rather swaggerish, old-boy style, his tramp with Mike Stroud (see Mike Stroud, Shadows on the Wasteland, below) across the southernmost continent, dragging all they would need behind them in sleds (a mere 500 pounds when full) for 1,350 miles. The trip would be another first -- if they survived. This was a long, mean trek across a brutal landscape only too happy to seal their doom, if not from a fall down a crevasse, then by the sheer wasting of their bodies. There are the obligatory horrifying descriptions of body rot (he refers to his hands as ""senseless lumps of bloodless meat"" and his nose as a suppurating pineapple) and some fine description of the terrain and strange weather phenomena, and the narrative is laced with excerpts from the diaries of explorers who went before them. Fiennes comes across as a bit of a bully (he does a very neat and quiet job of making Stroud out to be a weenie), prone to God-and-country bluster, but for all his ramrod-straight comportment, he does have a sense of humor, tongue often firmly in cheek -- it's probably frozen there. Therein lies the success of his story: a desperate, thrilling adventure told with enough drollery to make it believable, and the haughty Fiennes a mere mortal. And bully for them -- they made it. A cracking account of one hazardous march, in the classic stiff-lipped style.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Delacorte