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Observations placeholder

Fiennes, Sir Ranulph and Virginia - Ginnie meets a presence



Type of Spiritual Experience


In 1980, four members of the Transglobe expedition under the leadership of Sir Ralph Fiennes, pitched their camp at the foot of Ryvingen mountain on the south polar ice cap and braced themselves for the desolation of the Antarctic winter…………..
More than one option here, the presence did not speak or use words so was not one of the other bodied souls in the camp.

A description of the experience

John Geiger – The Third Man factor

As base commander and radio operator, Fiennes’ wife, Virginia, Lady Fiennes – called ‘Ginnie’ – was the expedition’s conduit to the outside world.  She was slightly built, spirited and resourceful, and had the ability to ‘make big men quake in their boots with a flash of her bright blue eyes’.

When ice build up on the antennas, coupled with the fierce winds, tore the sixty centimetre long metal screws from the ground, allowing the antennas to flap freely, Ginnie Fiennes was the team member responsible for the repair.  She struggled tirelessly and without complaint in the blizzards, a flashlight in her mouth, untangling wires.

With time, the constant demands caused her to get overtired, and the hours spent alone, outside in the darkness and inside her cramped radio hut, contributed to a general feeling of unease.  In the frequent blizzards, she often had to drag a sledge loaded with recharged batteries to the hut from their living quarters, while clipped to a safety line.  The relentless cold and wind and the uninterrupted polar night, either pitch black or lit faintly by the aurora or by moonlight, over the many months compounded the agitation and introversion that accompanied their profound geographic isolation.

In May, another team member, Oliver Shepard, mentioned casually to Ginnie that he had heard footsteps following him from the generator hut. He attributed this to his imagination, but he was not the only one who experienced a sensation of unseen company.  At one point Fiennes herself came into the main hut and told her husband “There’s something there”.  He protested, but she insisted.

“ I don’t mean a danger but a strong presence”.

The sense abated and the situation returned to its routine, but then during a storm in June she again felt something close at hand.

“It came round behind the radio shack and followed me back down the tunnel”.

The entity was not menacing, but it was unsettling.  Ranulph Fiennes believed his wife was ‘frightened that she might see it’.  He started accompanying her, hauling the sledge and would stay in the radio hut with her.  He never encountered anything, and she never felt the presence when he was with her.

In October Fiennes described Ginnie as “dog tired and hallucinating. From time to time she heard crying in the darkness and someone whispering indistinguishable words from close behind her”……….

At one point, Grimes went alone to visit the radio hut, … he wrote in his journal ‘No sign of Ginnie’s ghost, a presence which she felt during the winter.. a youngish man I gather. Not malevolent, just there.

The source of the experience

Fiennes, Sir Ranulph and Virginia

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps