EXPLORATION, AS SIR Ranulph Fiennes reminds us several times, has changed radically since the grim sledge-pulling days of Scott of the Antarctic. One is tempted to note that it isn't just the satellite navigation devices, the snowmobiles, and the communication systems that are different: across the back of the dust jacket, Sir Ranulph is trumpeted as 'the world's greatest living explorer', a piece of twenty-first-century PR-inspired hype that the diffident Scott and his small band of heroes would have found deeply embarrassing. Modesty is as outdated today as the heavy wooden skis with which the explorers of 19 12 struggled across the snow to their deaths.
Much, though, remains the same, and it is fascinating to read an account of that horrific journey written by a man whose curriculum vitae suggests that he visits the poles as casually as most of us visit the pub. He lists a few of the attractions of Antarctic travel, whether