Belfast Telegraph

Ben Fogle: Conquering Everest was like an out-of-body experience

The adventurer made it to the summit of the mountain on the Nepal/Tibet border earlier in May.

Ben Fogle has said it was “almost an out-of-body experience” conquering Mount Everest after a challenging climb in which he faced avalanches and exploding oxygen cylinders.

The adventurer set off in April and reached the summit of the 29,029ft (8,848m) mountain on May 16, after revealing that he had dedicated the trek to his stillborn son.

At 7.30am on the 16th May, after more than five weeks of acclimatising and training on Mount Everest, I finally realised a childhood dream when I successfully summited the 8848m mountain. After several days being battered by storms at Camp 4 (South Col) we set off for the summit in near perfect weather. While the 8 days it has taken us to reach the summit have not been without incident. Reaching the top of the world will remain a highlight of my life. And I felt honoured to summit with @kentoncool and @fishercreative. The real hero’s of Everest are not the climbers but the Sherpas. Particular thanks must go to Kam Dorjee Sherpa, Ming Dorjee Sherpa and Ang Thindu Sherpa. They are not in the photo for an astonishing reason that will become apparent in the coming days. Thank you for all your support. I am over the moon with happiness. This has been the greatest adventure. Photo credit @fishercreative

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The 44-year-old told BBC Breakfast: “It is a pretty dangerous mountain.

“There is this big maze-like area of snow and ice that you have go through just to get up to camp one, it is pretty gritty.

“There are avalanches on an hourly basis – there were collapses while we were there.”

The presenter continued: “When I stood on the roof of the world at 8,848 metres, it was the most beautiful and the most scary and the most strange experience of my life.

“It’s almost like an out-of-body experience because you put so much effort in and we were plagued by some other problems.

“My oxygen regulator – the air is so thin up there you need supplementary oxygen, and I had two cylinders explode on my back which is kind of unheard of.”

Fogle said he was also affected by the time he spent in the “death zone”, above 26,247ft (8,000m).

“It’s a very strange place,” he said. “It’s where the line between life and death and mortality and immortality doesn’t exist, it is blurred.

“You see lots of things up there and you experience lots of things that we don’t really experience down at sea level.

“I’ve lost lots of weight, but physically I’m in pretty good shape. But my brain is still trying to adjust.”

Sorry for the radio silence. I have been on Mount Everest for the last 8 days in our final bid to summit. It has been quite an adventure. Never entirely as expected. We have been stuck in major storms and hit by some technical equipment failure. We were battered by a mighty storm at 8000m which threatened to shred our tent and we have been humbled by Mother Nature. When I set out on this expedition, it was always with clarity and honesty that success was never guaranteed, indeed I always put personal welfare above any summit ego. This whole Everest expedition has been such an incredible adventure. It is almost impossible to surmise what the last five weeks have been like here in the high Himalayas. The Nepalese Sherpas have been one of the highlights. Their eyes twinkle with such beauty. Indeed in many ways it has been their beautiful spirit that has kept my own spirits when they have been battled by physical and mental challenges. I never thought climbing Everest was going to be easy, indeed it has tested me in ways other Expeditions haven’t. Success and Failure have become constant bedfellows........

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Fogle took on the climb with Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton for the British Red Cross in a bid to highlight the environmental challenges mountains face.

However, Pendleton left the expedition early after being advised by doctors to cut the trip short due to struggling with oxygen deficiency.

Fogle said she had been struggling with altitude and that her “stats were life-threateningly low”, but she had insisted that he carry on.

The presenter said he felt very far away from his wife and children during the climb but was in awe of the “utter beauty” of the scenery.

“It is the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.

“It humbles you because it reminds you of our mortality.

“It’s the most isolating place I’ve ever been but one full of such beauty and happiness and it is very emotional.”

Fogle said one of the reasons he took on Everest was to show his children, Ludo and Iona, that “that they could do whatever they want”.

“There is so much negativity in the world right now, on social media and in newspapers, and I just wanted a pure, unadulterated, happy experience,” he said.

“We had a lot of problems and I haven’t even touched on all of them and it’s not that I want to brush over those, but we need to have big, positive things to inspire children.”

He previously revealed that he was climbing in memory of his son, Willem, who was delivered stillborn at eight months in 2014.

I gave an assembly to my children’s school today via satellite phone. Nothing has given me as much pleasure so far on this trip than inspiring and exciting 300 young children, particularly my two beautiful children Ludo and Iona. It gives me so much happiness to share this journey with so many others. I don’t feel alone here. Never. There is a spirituality but I can also feel the support and the love here on Instagram. There have been so many lovely messages. I am sorry that I haven’t been able to reply to you all but I promise you I read your messages and once this adventure is over I will endeavour to reply to you all. There is one person in particular for whom this journey is dedicated. A little boy called Willem Fogle. He was my little son. Stillborn at 8 months. A little boy I never got to know. A little life that never got to live. A breath that was never exhaled. His loss changed our lives and I think about him daily. Losing my little boy made me reevaluate life. Not only do we hold our two beautiful children closer to us but it was a reminder to live life for the now. Don’t waste it. Cradling little Willem to say goodbye, I made a promise to him to live my life brightly. To embrace everyday. To always smile. To be positive and to inspire. In some ways I am now living my life for two. Willem is always there. I think he is my guardian angel here. There is one particular star that shines brighter. It draws my attention. It reflects off the snow and ice. I feel so lucky. I will never take life for granted but above all I’ll never be alone #everest2018

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He said on Instagram: “Losing my little boy made me re-evaluate life.

“Not only do we hold our two beautiful children closer to us but it was a reminder to live life for the now. Don’t waste it.

“Cradling little Willem to say goodbye, I made a promise to him to live my life brightly. To embrace every day. To always smile. To be positive and to inspire.

“In some ways I am now living my life for two. Willem is always there. I think he is my guardian angel here. There is one particular star that shines brighter. It draws my attention. It reflects off the snow and ice.

“I feel so lucky. I will never take life for granted, but above all I’ll never be alone.”

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