Wim Hof dis­cusses phi­los­o­phy and phys­i­ol­ogy with Matt Rad­ford via Skype from Am­s­ter­dam

Living Now - - Making A Difference - By Matt Rad­ford / pho­tog­ra­phy Enahm Hof

We should feel great, be­cause life is a mir­a­cle. The world is a mir­a­cle. We are liv­ing in the most beau­ti­ful spot in the whole universe. Out there, there's just cold, life­less and some rocks go­ing on. Here, on the planet, look around and you see all kinds of won­ders all the time.”

So says Wim Hof, the Dutch dare­devil better known as ‘ the Ice­man’. He is dis­cussing phi­los­o­phy and phys­i­ol­ogy with me via Skype from Am­s­ter­dam. A world renowned natural won­der him­self, this rugged and enig­matic 57 year old, in a baggy t shirt and a back­wards base­ball cap, ex­udes the bound­less en­ergy of a teenager. For over 30 years Hof has been push­ing the lim­its of hu­man en­durance, and the bound­aries of what is con­sid­ered sci­en­tif­i­cally pos­si­ble.

I’ve been fas­ci­nated with the Ice­man’s story since watch­ing a BBC doc­u­men­tary ten years ago. The film fol­lowed Hof’s at­tempt to run a half marathon in the Arc­tic Cir­cle in noth­ing but a pair of shorts and san­dals. Ex­perts in arc­tic sur­vival stated that ex­po­sure to these sub­zero tem­per­a­tures (mea­sured at 35°C) would nor­mally re­sult in death by hy­pother­mia in less than 30 min­utes, yet Hof man­aged to run the 21 kilo­me­tres through the snowy ter­rain in just over five hours. I re­mem­ber be­ing chilled just watch­ing footage of a record break­ing 50 me­tre un­der­wa­ter swim between two holes cut though the ice of a frozen over lake. In one of his at­tempts Hof reports that his reti­nas froze and he was forced to nav­i­gate blind be­neath the ice be­fore be­ing guided out by a safety diver.

In the years since, Hof has re­peat­edly bro­ken his own record for the length of time sub­merged in a full body ice bath, which now stands at 1 hour and 52 min­utes. One such at­tempt in Ger­many re­sulted in his hav­ing to be hacked free from the frozen mass with axes. His many feats of en­durance are not lim­ited to with­stand­ing ex­tremes of cold. He has also run a marathon through the Namib­ian desert with­out drink­ing any wa­ter, and hung by one fin­ger from a hot

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