I am mostly getting ready to climb. When I climbed Everest in 2009, I needed oxygen, climbing boots with crampon spikes, a down jacket and trousers, and windproof outer garments. I had thermal long johns and a vest with sleeves, a hat, a scarf, a thin and a thick pair of socks. Some people wear vapour barrier socks between the thin and thick socks to stop sweat getting into the thick pair.
Normally you are completely clad so there is no part of you that the sun can reach. But, if you don’t have a hat, you need strong sun cream and, because of the glare, glacier glasses or goggles. On long expeditions I have had dreadful chafing, which we call “crotch rot”. We apply powder or E45 to try to stop that.
On standard routes up Everest you trudge along ropes the Sherpas put out and you need two “ascenders” to attach yourself. When you get to a knot in the rope, you put an ascender above the knot before you disengage the one below. So at all times you are connected.
On a trickier climb, some would wear gloves rather than mitts, but it’s best to wear two pairs of mitts so your fingers don’t get frostbitten. I lost an inch and a half of the fingers and thumb on my left hand to frostbite in the Arctic in 2000. Back home, I had to wait five months for the final amputations and, every time I touched something, it was agony. My wife said I was irritable, so I thought, “Why not cut off the dead bits myself?” So I got out the Black + Decker bench and a saw, and my wife brought me cups of tea. The thumb took two days, but eventually I got rid of all five of the ends, and the surgeon said I’d done a good job!
• Agincourt: My Family, the Battle and the Fight for France by Ranulph Fiennes is published by Hodder Stoughton at £14.99