Insight | Case study: Ranulph Fiennes


Case study: Ranulph Fiennes


Using satellite connectivity to promote a charity expedition on Mount Aconcagua.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes is a British explorer and holder of several endurance records. Sir Ranulph served in the British Army for eight years before undertaking numerous expeditions. He was the first person to visit both the North and South Poles, and the first to completely cross Antarctica on foot. In May 2009, at the age of 65, he climbed to the summit of Mount Everest. According to the Guinness Book of World Records in 1984, he was the world's greatest living explorer.

The challenge

Back in 1982, Sir Ranulph successfully crossed both polar ice caps. In 2004, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and in 2009 he scaled Mount Everest. He has also climbed Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, and Mount Vinson in Antarctica in 2016.

Later that year, he then announced his intention to climb the five remaining highest mountains and complete a world first – to become the first person to cross both polar ice caps and climb the highest mountains on each continent. Known as the ‘Global Reach Challenge’, Sir Ranulph’s goal was to build on the £18 million he had already raised for good causes throughout a lifetime of exploration, and aim to raise a total of £20 million – all in aid of the Marie Curie charity.

Less than a month after his last mountain ascent, Sir Ranulph set out to climb Mount Aconcagua in 2017, the highest peak in South America. Due to the remoteness of Aconcagua and the size of the task ahead of him, Sir Ranulph knew that he needed a connectivity solution that could help him stay in contact with support teams and emergency services, no matter where he and his team were on the mountain. It was also critical that he could keep followers updated on his progress with images, blogs and social media updates, as well as promoting the work of Marie Curie to increase donations and support. 

The solution

Having relied on Inmarsat’s connectivity services in a number of his previous expeditions, Sir Ranulph and his climbing team again chose to partner with Inmarsat to meet their connectivity challenges while on Mount Aconcagua.

Inmarsat first provided Sir Ranulph and his team with two IsatPhone2 devices. Operating on the most reliable satellite communications network in the world, IsatPhone 2 offered Sir Ranulph unrivalled battery life as well as email, SMS and GPS capabilities to make sure they stayed connected with support teams from anywhere on the mountain. Importantly, being engineered to withstand the most extreme weather conditions meant Sir Ranulph had peace of mind that he could stay in contact in an emergency, even in the most challenging conditions.

Further, in order to promote the work of cancer charity Marie Curie while he was climbing Aconcagua, Sir Ranulph opted to use Inmarsat’s BGAN HDR (High Data Rate) service.  This meant that Sir Ranulph and his production company, Fieldcraft Studios, could set up a live broadcasting solution in minutes without any technical expertise. This made it easier than ever to be ready to get on air, broadcast in high-quality and promote the work of Marie Curie, all at a moment’s notice and no matter where they were on the mountain.  

Related services


Ultra-reliable voice and data communications to support you and your operations, no matter where you are in the world.

IsatPhone 2

Our powerful, dependable and rugged satellite phone connects you wherever you are on the planet.

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Key benefits of BGAN and IsatPhone 2:

  • Inmarsat provides connectivity where infrastructure is damaged or does not exist
  • IsatPhone 2 allows responders to speak with their team and co-ordinate activities on the ground or back at base
  • BGAN provides connectivity for multiple devices to support a mobile operations centre
  • BGAN allows fundraisers to share images and video back home to boost fundraising efforts

The results

Inmarsat’s BGAN HDR service allowed the 72-year-old  adventurer to be interviewed live on BBC Breakfast whilst on Mount Aconcagua. This meant that he could promote the work of Marie Curie and move closer to his goal of reaching a lifetime’s personal fundraising total of £20 million.

Unfortunately, Sir Ranulph eventually had to be evacuated by air from the higher slopes of Mount Aconcagua after suffering a crippling back problem as he made a push for the summit. However, thanks to Inmarsat’s IsatPhone 2 satellite phones, the climbing team was able to call for help from the mountainside, ensuring a swift and safe evacuation.

To complete his Global Reach Challenge  and claim a world first, Sir Ranulph still needs to climb Mount Aconcagua, Mount Carstensz in New Guinea, and Denali, the highest peak in North America and one of the world’s most dangerous and difficult mountains to climb.