In Adventurers

An Interview with Adventurer Ginge Fullen

I recently wrote a series of posts on the highest mountain on every continent. (See them here: A-E, F-M, N-Z) I spent a ridiculous amount of time putting these together because the concept intrigued me, even though I have absolutely no intention of making the challenge part of my future plans. While researching for these, I came across the name Ginge Fullen, someone who has probably come the closest of anybody to completing that crazy task.

 

Ginge_fullen
Ginge holds 2 world records, the fastest to climb every peak in Europe and every peak in Africa. Overall, he has climbed 168 country high points, likely more than anyone else on the planet. There’s not a lot about Ginge and his achievements on the net, so I asked Ginge for an interview which is shown below. Well worth a read.

 

Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background…
 

Excerpt..

Ginge spent over 20 years as a Clearance Diver in the Royal Navy.  He has been a member of many different diving teams with a wide variety of roles including underwater engineering, Explosive Ordinance Disposal and deep and experimental diving.  Awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for saving lives during the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster at Zeebrugge, he has also taken part in some of the world’s toughest courses such as the Commando Course for the Green Beret and he has also twice taken part in the Royal Navy Fieldgun Competition, generally regarded as the toughest team sport in the world.

A broken neck in 1990 whilst playing rugby and a heart attack in 1996 on Mount Everest has not stifled his zest for life, nor stopped him pursuing anything he sets his mind to.

 

Enter the Highest Challenge..

The Highest Challenge is an ongoing Challenge to climb the highest mountain in as many of the 195 countries of the world as possible.

Already holding the World Records for being the first person to climb the highest mountain in every country in Europe and in Africa, Ginge Fullen is attempting to climb the highest mountain in more countries than anyone else to date, presently 167 countries.

Climbing the countries in Europe took seven years and saw many problems and hardships including muggings, knife attacks, having to avoid landmines in Croatia, avoiding Palace Guards in the Vatican City, being robbed by Chechen bandits, and bribing his way to the top of Mount Ararat in Turkey which had not been officially climbed in over 10 years.

In Africa Ginge saw wars, conflicts and military coups, the threat of landmines, the danger of snakes, lion and crocodiles, plus other occasional life threatening moments such as being held at gunpoint in Somalia, being arrested and taken for a mercenary in Liberia, being mugged by a gang of five in Kenya and coming within ten metres of a wild elephant blocking the path on Gabon’s highest peak.

 
When did you first realise you had a passion for adventure?
 
Mid 70’s.  My mother tells me I was watching the news and a couple of Brits had climbed Everest.  I apparently stormed off in a huff saying there will be nothing left to do when I grow up.
 
 
What does your climbing history look like?
167 country high points. Several of which took 2, 3 attempts or more.

 

The countries highlighted with blue are those which Ginge has climbed thus far.

EUROPE
Albania Czech Republic Ireland Netherlands Sweden
Andorra Denmark Italy Norway Switzerland
Armenia Estonia Latvia Poland Turkey
Austria Finland Liechtenstein Portugal Ukraine
Belarus France Lithuania Romania United Kingdom
Belgium Georgia Luxembourg Russia Vatican City
Bosnia Germany Macedonia San Marino Yugoslavia
Bulgaria Greece Malta Slovakia Montenegro (2006)
Croatia Hungary Moldova Slovenia
Cyprus Iceland Monaco Spain
AFRICA
Algeria Congo Guinea Morocco South Africa
Angola Côte d’Ivoire Guinea-Bissau Mozambique Sudan
Benin Dem Rep of Congo Kenya Namibia Swaziland
Botswana Djibouti Lesotho Niger Tanzania
Burkina Faso Egypt Liberia Nigeria Togo
Burundi Equatorial Guinea Libya Rwanda Tunisia
Cameroon Eritrea Madagascar São Tomé & Principe Uganda
Cape Verde Ethiopia Malawi Senegal Zambia
Central African Rep Gabon Mali Seychelles Zimbabwe
Chad Gambia Mauritania Sierra Leone South Sudan  (2012)
Comoros Ghana Mauritius Somalia
ASIA
Afghanistan India Korea, North Myanmar Tajikistan
Azerbaijan Indonesia Korea, South Nepal Thailand
Bangladesh Iran Kyrgyzstan Pakistan Turkmenistan
Bhutan Iraq Laos Philippines Uzbekistan
Brunei Israel Lebanon Singapore Vietnam
Cambodia Japan Malaysia Sri Lanka
China Jordan Maldives Syria
East Timor Kazakhstan Mongolia Taiwan
ARABIAN PENINSULA
Bahrain Oman Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Yemen
Kuwait Qatar
NORTH AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Antigua and Barbuda Canada Dominican Repub. Jamaica Saint Lucia
Bahamas Cuba Grenada Mexico St Vincent/Grenadines
Barbados Dominica Haiti St Kitts and Nevis United States of America
CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA
Argentina Chile El Salvador Nicaragua Suriname
Belize Colombia Guatemala Panama Trinidad and Tobago
Bolivia Costa Rica Guyana Paraguay Uruguay
Brazil Ecuador Honduras Peru Venezuela
AUSTRALIA AND THE PACIFIC
Australia Marshall Islands New Zealand Samoa Tuvalu
Fiji Micronesia Palau Solomon Islands Vanuatu
Kiribati Nauru Papua New Guinea Tonga
 
You told me you suffered a heart attack while climbing Mt Everest in 1996. How high were you and how did you manage to make it down to safety?
 
Chapter attached
 
The first of your world records was climbing all 47 of Europes country high points, how long did that take you?
From 1992 – 1999
Ginge_fullen_2
 
 
What was the most difficult part of the experience?
Last mountain Turkey’s Mount Ararat was off limits.  Went up with the rebel group PKK at night and slept in caves in the day
 
The most rewarding?

Vatican City was nice

 
The second world record was what you called “Africa’s highest challenge”, climbing to the highest peak of all 53 countries in Africa. I imagine the hardest aspect of that would be the logistics and human-related factors, rather than the peaks themselves… how long did it take you to plan and organise the trip?
Plan and organize not really it was enevitable really.  5 years to complete though.  Finding some of the peaks was hardest.  Grant Hutchison from Scotland is my expert I use to find the peaks
 
Anything take you completely by surprise?
Wild Elephant in Gabon but nothing really
 
Any crazy stories you want to share?
Attached Toilet story, lots of others though.
 
 
I first came across your name when I wrote an article on the highest peak in each country. You have climbed 166 out of 193 of those, perhaps more than anyone else on the planet. Did you ever set yourself that as a real target?
Not really.  Just keep busy in life and try and stay alive long enough to do more mountains
 
Do you think it’s possible to achieve in one lifetime?
The only limits are those of vision as they say.  Make dreams a memory!
 
 
What’s next for you?
Solomons, New Zealand, Marshals and Kiribati.  Nov/Dec
 
Surinams highest peak in Feb.  Jungle trek two weeks only been climbed once before

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