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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England