Former Olympian Victoria Pendleton has been forced to pull out of a climb of Mount Everest due to health concerns.
The gold medal-winning cyclist was on course to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain with TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle, but has been advised by doctors to cut the trip short due to struggling with oxygen deficiency.
Pendleton wrote on Instagram that “after much deliberation” she had decided not to continue the climb.
View this post on Instagram
Unfortunately after much deliberation I have decided not to continue my endeavour to summit Mount Everest. The weather conditions have offered the possibility of an early summit bid, as a consequence I have been unable to adhere to the prescribed rotation program and keep pace with the team without causing concern regarding my health at the higher camps, due to my lack of adaptation to the extreme altitude. I am incredibly disappointed not to complete the challenge and frustrated as I feel in great physical condition and was moving swiftly and efficiently through the icefall and across the glacier, at no point did I feel this was a weakness in the challenge. Whilst we were working and moving I was really positive and comfortable. Unfortunately when we were recovering in camp in the afternoon, relaxing with a resting heart rate with a less active breathing pattern, I started to feel quite unwell and felt my body was going into shut down and the oxygen saturation of my blood was very low. So much so that I required a light flow of oxygen that continued throughout the night. My condition caused much concern to Kenton and distressed the team. Kenton felt it was perhaps more sensible for me not to continue, for the sake of my health and wellbeing. I took his advice and called an end to my summit bid. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to have experience one of the the most impressive, imposing and challenging environments on the planet, the Himalayas are a magical place I feel honoured to have visited. I hope that I may continue to support the @britishredcross and their fundraising and thank @anythingispossible.world for this incredible experience. I also wish @benfogle and @kentoncool all the very best of luck in their summit bid! I have 100% faith, thanks to @fishercreative for the photo x
“The weather conditions have offered the possibility of an early summit bid, as a consequence I have been unable to adhere to the prescribed rotation program and keep pace with the team without causing concern regarding my health at the higher camps”.
“I am incredibly disappointed not to complete the challenge and
frustrated as I feel in great physical condition and was moving swiftly and efficiently through the icefall and across the glacier.
“I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to have experienced one of the the most impressive, imposing and challenging environments on the planet, the Himalayas are a magical place I feel honoured to have visited.”
Fogle and Pendleton were attempting to climb the 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) mountain on the Nepal/Tibet border, in an expedition due to last about a month across April and May.
The pair, along with mountaineer Kenton Cool, were taking on Everest for the British Red Cross in a bid to highlight the environmental challenges mountains face.
Fogle and Cool have continued the expedition without Pendleton. The presenter confirmed on social media on Thursday that they had reached the third base camp at 7,200 metres (23,600 ft).
Fogle paid tribute to Pendleton on Instagram, where he has been posting live updates of the team’s progress.
View this post on Instagram
AN IMPORTANT UPDATE ‘Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm’ Winston Churchill. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Expedition life is about expecting the unexpected. Be prepared for anything. But sometimes it catches you off guard. Climbing Mount Everest is like a game of chess. It keeps you on your toes. It is fraught with risk and in some ways that is why we are here. Our first ‘rotation’ onto the mountain was successful in part but Victoria Pendleton struggled with the altitude. While she was physically strong, physiologically she struggled to cope with the thin air. Her oxygen saturation was worryingly low. At sea level most of us would record a healthy 99/100%, anything lower than 95% and you’d probably find yourself in Casualty, Victoria registered 21%. That’s nearly dead. We rushed her onto oxygen and dextamenthadone, to prevent HAPE, High altitude Pulmonary Edema. It was pretty scary for all of us to say the least. Together Vic and I have climbed peaks around the world in preparation for our Everest Summit, and while Victoria has struggled to adapt with the altitude she has soldiered on. She has been such an inspiration. She has become a real friend and an integral part of Expedition Everest. We are an unusual team. The sportswoman and the Broadcaster, but together we have a unique dynamic. Victoria brings focus and determination while I have experience of deprivation and solitude. But to see her in such a state at Camp 2, high up the mountain at 6400m, was something I never wanted to experience. We returned to Base Camp with extra oxygen for Victoria and then we had to make a tough decision. A visit to Everest ER and a consultation with our London based high altitude doctor Sundeep Dhillon confirmed the worst. We would be foolhardy at best to take Victoria back towards the death zone of Everest. We still had more than 2 miles (2400m) of altitude to gain and in the spirit of our ethical, thoughtful summit attempt, Victoria took the advise of all of those around her, including our guide Kenton Cool and took the very brave and in my mind very sensible decision not to carry on. Continued... Photo @fishercreative
Alongside a picture of himself next to Pendleton during the expedition, Fogle quoted former prime minister Winston Churchill.
He wrote: “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
In a further post he wrote: “I think she was far braver to concede. So many tragedies on Everest are borne from those who are blinded or dazzled by summit fever. Those who choose to carry on despite the risk to their health and well-being.
“We owe it to our families and we owe it to ourselves. The summit is merely the icing on the cake.”
Since retiring from cycling, Pendleton has become a professional jockey. She finished fifth in the 2016 Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
She was also a contestant in the 10th series of Strictly Come Dancing, where she was partnered with professional dancer Brendan Cole.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph newspaper Pendleton explained why she had decided to take part in the Everest expedition.
She said: “As a female of a certain age, there’s one thing I should be doing, apparently, and that’s staying home and having kids.
“I want to be that person who goes, ‘No, I don’t conform’.”