A few of us were in Antarctica right before Christmas – just for ourselves, no cameras around – and we were kite-skiing, and we were flying, doing about 50 kilometers an hour. It was really blowing a proper hoolie. I'd just put a helmet on, more to keep my hat and goggles on, and about 10 minutes later I was in the front, and a massive gust came along and just ripped me out of the skis, and I flew through the air and smashed down really hard on this blue ice. I landed with my head and my shoulders and shattered the helmet completely. If I hadn't had that on, my head would have been proper jam. And I broke my shoulder. My first thought was, Bloody hell.
You never want to be injured, but I find it helps you to be focused. Now I've got this one goal, which is to get my shoulder better. I'm doing something for it, training, every day. I've learned that great things come from difficult times, and if I'm limited in some respect, how am I going to make use of the time?
Right before we left on the trip, I finished my last book, and I started it with this quote: "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, covered in scars, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming, 'Yahoo, what a ride!' " That was a bit prophetic, wasn't it? You take the rough with the smooth.
How to Survive…success
I don't feel very famous. That's probably a good starting point. A few times a year I come out with Discovery and we tour around America, and sometimes people in the street recognize you, and there's no one more surprised than me. I'm always amazed anyone watches the show, to be honest. I really look at it like it's just me and Simon and a couple of others in these jungles, and we mess around and say loads of stupid things to the camera, and most of it hits the cutting-room floor.
I've been asked to be in this film, 'Clash of the Titans.' Warner Bros. is doing a remake of it. I've got to think, Do I want to do that? There are so many cool things. We've been asked to do a Man vs. Wild urban disaster 3-D feature film, which would be brilliant. I'd really like to do that, showing cool ways to get out of burning buildings or what to do when you're mugged or your car goes off the bridge under the ice, your window-cleaning basket breaks. The truth is, I need 10 lifetimes to scratch the surface of the things I'd love to do.
At the end of the day, my focus is on one thing, which is getting to our place in Wales. We spend six weeks of every year up there. It's heaven. It's just us five and literally no electricity, no telephones or computers, and we collect rainwater off the roof. For me, it becomes the focus of my whole year, and the rest is just fluff.
How to Survive…a scandal
I'm neither the superman nor the super-baddie I'm made out to be, but I am human, and it was hard to hear all the criticism, because I'd worked really hard and had risked a lot. Right in the middle of it, Sir Ran Fiennes rung me up and he said, "You think you've got it bad, that is nothing! You should have seen how they came after me in the '80s!"
He said, "Don't listen to them," and "Keep your pecker up," and I'm sure he's right. If I read half the stuff that is written or went on the forums, I'm not sure my confidence could take it. But at the same time, I'd been doing all this adventure stuff long before the TV cameras, and I'll be doing it long after, too, and so my interest in it isn't based on what others are writing. There's always going to be the odd missile, especially if you achieve some success, but it'll only take you out if you're basing your identity on what they're saying about you.
Since the controversy, if I ever have any safety protection, I now have to acknowledge it. I think it's crap always having to say it, so I am actually doing more free climbs. But I keep in mind that trying to prove yourself is dangerous. You can't live someone else's expectations in life. It's a recipe for disaster. Accidents on big mountains happen when people's ambitions cloud their good judgment. Good climbing is about climbing with heart and with instinct, not ambition and pride. So is living.