Ben Fogle on Mount Everest – “I am scared”

As Ben Fogle now attempts the final push to conquer Everest without fellow climber Victoria Pendleton, the TV adventurer reveals he is under no illusion as to the gruelling hazards lying ahead.

TV adventurer Ben Fogle embarked on his attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain yesterday morning.

His team, led by the experienced mountaineer Kenton Cool, will now have to negotiate the so-called “death zone” in a bid to scale the final 2,700ft.

Ben has already lost his climbing partner, the double Olympic gold-winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton, to altitude sickness.

He will now be out of contact for many of the six days it is expected to take him to reach the summit and embark on the exhausting journey back down.

And in this latest instalment of his diary, written exclusively for the Daily Express, he talks openly about his fears for the final challenge that lies ahead.

Climbing Everest is like a game of chess. Every move you make has long-term implications. It is a long game. There are no guarantees.

Ben Fogle on Mount Everest

Photograph from Twitter (C) Ben Fogle

The feeling of being in the mountains is one of anguish, frustration and fear.

In the face of their beauty and majesty, I am reminded of my own insignificance. Of all men’s insignificance. I am Lilliputian. It is humbling.

Expedition Everest felt a little solemn as we worked our way back up through the Khumbu Icefall without Victoria at the end of last week.

This was our second, and final, training rotation on the mountain before our summit attempt.

It took us eight hours to climb more than a vertical mile. I like to consider myself a fit individual but it was as if the mountains sucked the energy from my body.

They have a power to turn grown adults into feeble weaklings.

Meanwhile, the invisible power of altitude is just astonishing. Waves of nausea and headaches washed over me as we climbed high into the clouds.

After a night at Camp 2, we began the scariest part of the mountain for someone like me who suffers vertigo: the Lhotse Face.

A vertical cliff that soars hundreds of metres, it was a dizzying prospect. The only way to climb the sheer blue ice is to abseil using crampons (spikes on our boots).

It is exhausting at this height as well as terrifying. One false move and you will tumble hundreds of feet to the valley below.

For hours, we worked our way up the seemingly vertiginous icy slope at slug’s pace. The beating sun was roasting our faces while the icy winds froze my hands and feet.

We finally reached Camp 3, which is cut into the sheer side of the mountain, the tents clinging precariously to the side. Here, you need to sleep while harnessed to the side of the mountain.

It is not a place for those fearful of heights.

Altitude does many things to you and one is to make you more emotional.

I feel so far from home. My team is diminished and I feel out of my depth.

I am scared. I miss my family and I begin to doubt whether I should be here.?

Source: Daily Express