Luke Richmond has climbed the highest mountains on six continents and set a world record for ocean rowing; he's also witnessed death and been held captive in the jungle.
The inspiring 33-year-old Australian traveller has detailed the highs and lows of his jetsetting life in his new memoir One Life One Chance. And there's not a dull moment, in fact it's quite the incredible transformation.
Mr Richmond's passion for travel all began at the age of 17, when he joined the army after spending his youth on various cattle stations around the Northern Territory. Years later on the streets of London he found himself caught up in a soulless world of drug and alcohol addiction, reports News.com.au.
After waking up in a police cell with no memory of how he got there, he knew he had hit rock bottom and made the snap decision to turn his life around.
Within days he was in Thailand, training his mind and body at a Muay Thai boxing camp in the jungles of Phuket. Mr Richmond told news.com.au that in suffering, he found his salvation, and since then he has made the most out of life by seeking adventure in remote corners of the world.
This also placed him in the shadow of death more times than he can remember.
"I've seen climbers frozen by the trail as we ascend up past them," Mr Richmond said. "I've seen body bags getting lifted away by helicopter on the highest peak in Alaska as I try to convince myself I have what it takes.
"I rowed across the Atlantic in 55 days setting a new world record with my team. We rowed from Portugal to Brazil and withstood two enormous storms at sea where I really did think that the end was here. I learnt to be grateful for the suffering on that trip and that mindset has helped me.
"I've accomplished so much more since then. I crossed the Gobi Desert on foot dragging carts in 57 days with my wife and a friend dragging their carts alongside me. We set a world first for the route that we took and some of the sandstorms we came across were impossible to walk into, they stopped us in our tracks."
Above all, Mr Richmond wishes to inspire others to transform their lives too.
"I've learnt how to overcome addiction and gain emotional control through fitness and with having a passion," he said. "I have learned to confront death and tailor my life accordingly so that I can live a happier life.
"I'm grateful for the suffering I endure during these expeditions, it teaches me perspective and no matter how much I hurt, at any one time millions of people worse off would take my place in a second. It's a privilege to do what I do and I never take it for granted.
"I have learnt how to control fear through Base Jumping where one mistake literally kills you, it's the one sport where you are accountable 100 per cent for your actions and the outcome.
"These are some of the stories I would like to share with everyone and hopefully inspire people to get active and live happier and healthier lives."
So what's next? He plans to head to Nepal later this year with his wife and his dream is to climb Ama Dablam, a 7000-metre ice beast. Next year he will attempt kayak the Amazon River from the west coast of South America to the East Coast.
"4500km of beautiful misery along the biggest river in the world and through some untouched jungle landscapes."
Sounds like bliss.
Here are some highlights of his adventures:
ARMY LIFE IN EAST TIMOR
At around 5.30am the training staff walked into the quiet halls of the 15-platoon barracks, crept into our rooms with machine guns and opened fire with blank rounds, not more than a few feet from our heads.
Shocked from deep sleep, my heart was thumping out of my chest and I didn't know what the hell was happening. We were rushed down the hallway in the dark and every time the corporal asked: "What are you going to do?" we were made to scream: "Kill, kill, kill" at the top of our lungs.
At the end of the hallway was a pitch-black room where we were all made to sit together cross-legged on the floor. Once sitting down and still screaming: "Kill, kill, kill", a projector screen flickered to life in front of us.
Images of war, killing and battlefield clips were flashed across the screen over and over again to a soundtrack of heavy metal music. Braveheart scenes, Saving Private Ryan, Apocalypse Now and images of bombing raids, all shown to us in order to do one thing, make us emotional and aggressive. It worked.
DRUGS AND DESPAIR IN LONDON
After the military, I was without a mission or direction just travelling and searching for something. I found alcohol, then drugs and being an extreme person took it to the next level, which just so happens to be rock bottom.
The turning point was waking up in jail getting hosed down by police because I was covered in my own s**t. The next day they released me, I went home, kept doing drugs but called a mate for help. He told me to book a flight to a training camp in Thailand so that's exactly what I did.
Still high I flew out that day, landed in Phuket sick as a dog and started doing six hours per day of Muay Thai to cleanse my body cold turkey. It was the turning point that reawakened my imagination and dreams of adventure.
DETOXING IN THAILAND
Sweat was pouring from my body and I was light headed from the humidity. Finally, the command was given to drink water and pair up. Rushing to my bottle I gulped down half of it and knew I had made a mistake in only bringing one.
I was partnered up with a big European guy; no names were exchanged as I think those pleasantries were lost during fight training. For the next two hours, we completed round after round of sparring, bag work, pad work and endless push-ups.
I was out of water and sweat was cascading from my body on to the floor around me. Before starting the session, I knew I wouldn't perform to my best ability but I set myself the goal of just not giving up, no matter what.
Two-and-a-half hours into the session the command was given to stop, take off our gloves and complete 200 sit-ups and 200 more push-ups. I was totally exhausted and on the brink of collapse by the time I'd finished the sit-ups and had started on the push-ups.
Throughout the session every punch I threw, every kick I landed and every drop of sweat that hit the floor was a small step in cleansing the shame of drink and drugs from myself.
It wasn't the police washing the filth from me this time, it was me.
HELD CAPTIVE IN THE WEST PAPUA JUNGLE
Down in the valley the rain had caused a slab of rock to come loose in the cave the porters were camped in, the rock had fallen and crushed one of the locals, a 16-year-old boy. It had struck him on the chest and head ... sending the rest of the porters into a frenzy.
One of them charged up the valley to our camp with his machete and spear to claim the life of one of the westerners for the life of one of theirs. He was wild with anger, slashing his machete on the ground and demanding one of us come out of our tents and surrender to him. In their culture it was simple, a life for a life — it was our fault they were up in the mountains so one of us needed to die.
Meldi (our guide) was nervous about the whole situation but he told us we had to go down and try to sort it out. As we were talking a porter arrived from down in the valley ... He was there to escort us down to the cave to see the body and discuss the problem.
Dean and I volunteered to go down with him from our (climbing group); we had no idea what we were going to say to them and the whole scenario felt like a trap but there wasn't another option.
The team couldn't get back through the jungle without the porters as even Meldi didn't know the way back, and even if he did we had to fly out of the porters' small village. The porters weren't going to move until something was done about the death of the boy.
We brought along a two-way radio and told the team we would try and keep them updated via radio if we were within range and waved goodbye to the nervous faces of the others. Meldi, Dean and I moved off down the valley with our escort. I had been in tense situations before with the military but this was up there with the best.
... An hour later I spotted another porter standing up ahead. He was carrying a rifle, and as my heartbeat increased I was on high alert for an ambush. As we walked into their camp it was a mixed reception with some of the porters crying, some smiling and shaking our hands and the younger guys staring at us with hatred in their red swollen eyes.
We were led to the scene of the rock fall and to the body of the boy, which was being cradled in an older female's arms. The slab of rock that had fallen down was the size of a coffee table, it would have weighed 100 kilograms at least.
The ladies laid the body down on the ground and Dean leant over to check his condition. Blood was coming from his right eye and he had some clear liquid seeping from his ears, showing clear signs of head trauma. He put his hand softly on the boy's chest and noticed a very slight rise and fall.
He then put his ear to the boy's mouth and felt a very soft breath; checking the pulse he confirmed what he suspected and looked back at me saying, 'This guy's still alive!'
I couldn't believe it; we could possibly avert a disaster if the kid was still alive but we needed to make sure he stayed that way.
We had a quick talk amongst ourselves about what our options were and after realising the jungle was impossible and that we were within three hours' walk of the Grasberg gold mine, we made a snap decision.
We organised the porters to build a stretcher for the boy. We were to carry the kid to the mine and hopefully get help from the mine doctor and ambulance that they surely must have with 20,000 employees. We knew it was a risk after everyone telling us to keep clear of the mine, but we were out of options and needed to save this kid's life.
DRAMA AT MT ELBRUS, RUSSIA
The door cracked open and we fell inside pulling the door shut behind us and cutting off the roar of the wind. I saw the muzzle of the rifle in my face before I heard the Russian soldier yelling in my ears.
The AK-47 was pointed at my head as Valentine yelled at the soldier who was yelling at us. It was my second time that week having a gun shoved in my face and I thought this time my luck had run out.
The seconds ticked by in slow motion before the rifle was hesitantly lowered and reality returned, Valentine once again using his charisma to calm the situation down before mistakes could be made.
We were inside a crashed Russian military helicopter at 4820 metres on Elbrus. The soldier whose duty it was to protect the sensitive material on board lived inside 24 hours a day, so no wonder he was agitated. He accused me of being a spy, which Valentine laughed off, but also told us we were not welcome to stay and had to leave immediately.
We pleaded with the soldier as the storm raged outside, telling him we could die if he made us leave. Our concerns fell on deaf ears and as he got more and more aggressive Valentine said to me, "We have to leave now".
• Luke Richmond's book One Life One Chance is out now. To order a copy or to keep up with his adventures visit Richmond's website olocadventures.com.