First Person: 'I helped Ranulph Fiennes up Everest'

Kenton Cool, 35

Ranulph Fiennes is not the sort of man to take defeat lying down. So when his previous attempt to climb Everest fell short in 2008, it didn't sit with him very well. It was only a matter of time before he decided to return, but this time it had to be different. I was with Ran on both expeditions, and the first was part of a high-profile operation. There were one or two personality clashes between journalists, TV-crew operators, myself and Ran along the way that time around, which made for rather an uneasy environment. A culmination of factors meant that at 8,300m – just 500m short of the summit – Ran decided to turn back. At the time, he initially stated point-blank that he had given up on mountains and was going back to polar exploring, but he was soon tempted back to Everest. This time, however, the journey was perfect.

I've been climbing with Ran over a period of five years, during which our friendship has blossomed. I first met him when I was working as a trainee guide. We got on well, and he later asked me if I'd be prepared to take him up the face of the notorious Eiger in Switzerland, which is considered one of the tougher climbs, and one that no British guide had ever successfully completed before. That was back in 2007, by which time I was a fully trained guide – and our adventure raised just shy of £2m for charity. There, we found out that we worked very well together as a team. So when Ran did decide to give Everest a final go, it made sense for us to work together once more.

For this year's Everest climb, we wanted a much more low-key vibe than in 2008. It was an ad-hoc thing, and in the end there were seven climbers, including myself and Ran, plus a two-man film crew and 10 members of staff. We congregated at Kathmandu airport, and then spent 10 days trekking to base camp, which in itself is a beautiful trip. Then, once we arrived at base camp we began the five-week process of acclimatising our bodies, slowly making our way up and down the mountain, each time going a little bit further.

The mood at base camp is different every time I'm there. I've been so many times over the years and I have a lot of friends and colleagues who I only get to see when I'm up there, so it's always a fun atmosphere. And it's a great place to meet people from different cultures, who you wouldn't come across in everyday life.

Once we all felt our bodies getting used to the pressure, we set out on the climb, in "siege" style. There was one sherpa for each climber, and they moved in advance at each stage, setting up camp in preparation for our arrival. We went through six camps in all; during the ascent I hung back a bit, always about 40 minutes behind Ran; but we were in constant radio contact in case anything ever went wrong. Thankfully, the whole operation ran perfectly. There were no accidents along the way, and when the radio suddenly crackled into life and Ran announced he was on the summit, it was quite a magical moment. I was so pleased for him.

There is something great about having helped the legend that is Ranulph Fiennes up Everest. I feel privileged to have been able to do that, as I feel privileged every day in my job. My partner and I run our own small company, Dream Guides, for which we organise walks and climbing expeditions all over the world; one week I'm working in France, the next in Switzerland, and then I'm in Nepal [Kenton Cool has climbed Everest seven times]. It's an exciting lifestyle, and this day was a particularly memorable one. I'm pleased to have had such a nice closure to five years of working with Ran.

Kenton would like to thank his sponsors, including Mountain Hardware, Land Rover and SIS, and the sherpas, whose hard work, he says, goes largely unrecognised

Kenton is supporting the Science: So what? So everything campaign, which shows the importance of science behind everything, including climbing. To find out more, visit direct.gov.uk/sciencesowhat.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones