THE ICEMAN IS COMING!
Wim Hof discusses philosophy and physiology with Matt Radford via Skype from Amsterdam
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