Guy Mostyn looks ahead to likely highlights on the 2008 adventure-sports calendar
Bruce Parry, the TV anthropologist (best known from the BBC’s Tribe), is in the middle of the Amazon jungle on a six-month journey from the Peruvian Andes to the river’s mouth on Brazil’s Atlantic coast. Until now, the adventurer has only ever been able to spend a couple of weeks with the remote groups he meets. This is his chance to probe much deeper and the result will be six one-hour films for BBC2. “This is something Bruce has been working on for a very long time,” says a friend.
Next year promises to be action-packed. First up on the 2008 calendar is the North Pole season, which kicks off in mid-February. But will anyone get there? Pen Hadow has been forced to postpone his ground-breaking survey to measure the thickness of the Arctic ice-cap until 2009. This will be a disappointment for Ann Daniels, who was to be in charge of the day-to-day running of the expedition. She has put her own ambitions to reach the North Pole on ice in order to join Hadow’s endeavour. This now leaves the field clear for Hannah McKeand to attempt the first female solo and unsupported journey to the North Pole – the male version of the feat was first achieved by Hadow in 2003. A spokesman for Daniels spokesman says that she’s definitely going, whether she gets sponsorship or not.
Spring will see the annual Everest circus roll into town. Back for a second attempt is Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who has teamed up again with the guide Kenton Cool for a bid from the Nepalese side, following the route climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing in 1953. Sir Ranulph failed on the steeper northern route in 2005, just two years after a massive heart attack nearly killed him. He is raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. “One of my personal goals is to raise a total of £15 million for charity in my lifetime,” he says. With five summits under his belt, Kenton Cool has already climbed the mountain more times than any other Briton.
On the ocean, Dee Caffari will continue to build her racing experience in preparation for the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe race after cruelly losing her mast during the final approach of the 4,300 mile (6,900km) Transat Ecover B to B race. Just 160 miles (260km) off Cape Finisterre, Caffari was dismasted in 45 knot (83km/h) winds and had to be towed in to Spain. Despite being the first woman to sail solo the “wrong way” around the world, Caffari is still a relative rookie in the high-octane Formula 1 world of ocean racing inhabited by professional athletes such as Ellen MacArthur.
Ben Fogle and James Cracknell are teaming up again to race to the South Pole at the end of 2008. Next month, they will undertake their first training week in Norway. All that stands between them and the finish line at the Pole is the onerous task of raising £42,300 each to take part. Other competitors include Richard Dunwoody, the former jockey.
Mast misery: woe for Dee Caffari