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

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.

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The 44-year-old told 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.”

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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.

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

Press Association