MY CLUB • November 2018
He has a list of accolades longer than his arm, but world-class adventurer Sir David Hempleman-Adams isn’t done yet. With a transatlantic mission on the horizon and an unending supply of campfire-circle stories, the British explorer talks about his paradise island, pork scratchings and packing for the edge of the world
All seven peaks of the Explorers Grand Slam (an adventurers’ challenge to reach the North and South Pole, as well as the highest summits of each continent) are achievable if you have the right guide. However, I’d say Mount Elbrus – the highest in Europe – is the one beginners should start off with. It’s more plod than climb, but very, very beautiful. Imagine the Alps 100 years ago, and that’s Elbrus.
It just feels so safe. I remember standing on a train platform with my wife and three daughters, and at least 10 people must have come up to ask if we were okay. From traditional ryokans to persuading my youngest to climb Mount Fuji with the promise of unlimited chocolate, travelling around Japan is the most enlightening family holiday we’ve ever had.
But if I had to live anywhere else, it would be Greenland. It really is one of the world's last untapped destinations. There’s a northern town called Qaanaaq that’s really special – you feel as if you’re on the edge of the world, and if you go any further you might fall off.
So pack yourself a corkscrew. Also, pork scratchings. As a connoisseur, I can say Ray Gray pork scratchings are the best, and help restore your salts after activity. Also, never leave for an expedition without SPF 50 sun cream – even in arctic conditions, I’ve burnt to a crisp. Lastly, a toothbrush. No matter where you are or where you’ve camped, cleaning your teeth in the morning makes you feel a million dollars.
The Four Seasons George V in Paris, the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, the lot. But cream of the crop is a cabin in Norway. Owned by a friend of mine, Manshausen is one place that everyone should visit before they die. Reached only by boat, these gorgeous glass-walled cabins are surrounded by nature, and you can spark up a fire and look out onto the Northern Lights.
Which is precisely why I’ve taken up sailing. Despite being a novice, my next challenge will be sailing solo across the Atlantic, from London to New York, to raise money for St John Ambulance – a fantastic organisation for which I’m gladly embarking on this, admittedly rather steep, learning curve. First thing I’ll be doing in New York? Heading to a quintessentially American diner for pancakes with lashings of maple syrup.
And nearly all of them are with BA. The thing I like most is the lounges. Going from somewhere like Greenland to London, or any major city, can be a culture shock. BA lounges become a tranquil intermediator between the two – a haven of peace. If I had to choose a favourite, it would probably be the one in New York JFK.
I’ve travelled to the four corners of the world, and British bobbies – our policemen – still stand out to me as a symbol of what is great about Britain, and it’s exactly the same with BA. When you see that logo as you’re going through an airport, you think of safety, dependability, prestige. You do feel a bit prouder to be British.
To support David on his transatlantic sailing expedition for St John Ambulance, donate here