Dom Joly: Climb Kilimanjaro? Pah! I went up a volcano and skied down it

Weird World of Sport: Nobody had ever attempted to ski down it and my life started to flash before me

Share
Related Topics

I have to tread very carefully here but ... I've climbed Kilimanjaro and it really wasn't that big a deal. Sure you get altitude sickness and it's a bit tiring but, apart from that, it's just one of those things that you do if you're travelling in Tanzania – you do a safari, climb Kili and then go to Zanzibar for a bit of beach action. Nobody I know did any specific training for it, they just got on with it – try dancing as MC Hammer, that's hard.

It's the power of television I suppose – everything has to look exciting and heroic. A week doesn't seem to pass now without some programme showing people trying to climb Everest. This has become such an industry that, on good climbing days, there are traffic jams on the way up.

It seems totally ridiculous that so many people are now able to have a go at something that, even 20 years ago, was the preserve of a very few elite nutters. I think that you should have to ski down Everest now once you've "summited" it. This would make things a little trickier again and separate the men from the boys.

I haven't climbed Everest and never will but I have climbed a volcano in Nicaragua and then attempted to ski down it. Once again, it was for television – people only ever do this kind of stupid stuff for television. It's like Warren Beatty put it scathingly in the documentary, In Bed With Madonna: "What is the point of living off-camera?"

I was in Nicaragua filming a travel show and Nicaragua is very much all about volcanoes, they're everywhere and you are supposed to climb them? Why? "Because," to paraphrase George Mallory, "they're there." So I was told that I would be climbing this volcano and, not only that, I would be "boarding" back down the thing. When I grumbled that I couldn't snowboard – that I was a skier, they were very relaxed and told me not to worry, that they'd find me some skis. I should have given this more thought; I should give all television I do more thought – but I never do. I ended up spending half a day in the sticky, hot customs house in Managua, eventually to take possession of the first pair of skis ever to be imported into the country.

This should have been a warning but off we drove towards this volcano, with the skis on the roof. The "climb" was not that arduous – a bit like Kilimanjaro, it was just a long, steep walk that you rather wished would end very soon. When we eventually summited I got my first sight of the slope down which I was supposed to ski.

It was a sheer drop of loose, sharp, black stone and it made me a bit dizzy. It was at this moment I discovered that when the production team had found out that people "boarded" down it, this meant on huge wooden sleds. Nobody had ever attempted to ski down and he was looking forward to watching. I got a sinking feeling and my life started to flash before me but I couldn't turn back. The cameras were rolling and my pride was at stake. I donned the tiny "Bigfoot" skis and got ready to die. It took me about 10 minutes to pluck up the courage to point the skis downhill. The moment I did I shot off for about five metres before the skis stopped dead and I tumbled over and rolled halfway down the slope on what felt like thousands of little daggers. It wasn't my finest hour.

It turned out that skiing the volcano wasn't really an option as the rocks didn't give enough slippage so I ended up slipping and stumbling all the way down to the bottom – something which took me about 40 very painful minutes. Now I realise that I should have done this for Comic Relief and I'd be hailed a hero by Gordon Brown and invited to a reception at No 10 where people could hear, once again, my heroic story. As it is, the incident is for Five and is not being aired until 2010, so you'll just have to take my word for it. It'll be good training for the cheese-rolling that I'm taking part in later this year. That was for the Indy charity auction – I'm all about charity this week although I'm loath to talk about it.

Hooray Henrik, but pants are a bit rough

You've got to love Henrik Stenson for stripping down to his undies so as not to sully his golf clothes – thought he might have some slightly more "golf" pants, though. Maybe some tweed Y-fronts?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales & Marketing Assistant

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This UK based B2C and B2B multi...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Executive - Opportunities Across The UK

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...

Recruitment Genius: Events Consultant

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen for an ex...

Recruitment Genius: Injection Moulding Supervisor

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Busy moulding company requires ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Teenagers make a request to vote at a polling station in Stanwell Village, west of London in the 2005 General Election  

If teenagers were keen to vote, it could transform Britain

Peter Kellner
Crocuses bloom at The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew  

From carpets of crocuses to cuckoos on the move, spring is truly springing

Michael McCarthy
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003