Queue forms for next challenge

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The Independent Online
THE BRITISH have a long-standing and unshakeable love affair with dangerous exploits, as witnessed by the success of yesterday's record- breaking trip around the world.

Despite the fact that many have tried, and died, in attempts to brave the worst that nature can throw up, there is a constant stream of adventurers rushing to risk their lives.

Just as David Hempleman-Adams abandoned his attempt to complete a solo unassisted trek to the geomagnetic North Pole, the mountaineer Alan Hinkes, was packing his rucksacks to head for Nepal - where he aims to be the first Briton to climb all 14 mountains in the world over 8,000 metres high.

Hempleman-Adams returned to his base camp in Canada late on Thursday night, after being rescued by a plane from an ice shelf. The 42-year- old, from Box, near Bath, was just 10 days into his journey when the runners on the sledge were torn apart by rocks exposed by high winds. "The next part of the trip was 70 miles across rough terrain, higher mountains, and I just figured that there would have been no way in hell would I have got that sledge through there without it falling apart," he said. He is expected back in Britain today.

For Hinkes, however, the challenge of climbing the Nepalese peaks of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Kangchenjunga and Makalu has yet to begin."Mountains are dangerous places," he said yesterday. "I know that I mustn't get complacent, or I could get killed. These days, I am more aware of my mortality."

He has already climbed 10 of the world's highest mountains - including Everest and K2 - and if he succeeds in his mission he will join an exclusive world club of just five people.

"It may have taken me 12 years to do it, and another Briton could then do it faster," he said yesterday. "But they can never be first, can they?"

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