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Eastrop man summits Mount Everest

JamesKetchell_Wk22-5-2011A Basingstoke man is back home recovering after conquering the world highest mountain.

James Ketchell from Eastrop summited Mount Everest on May 16 after a four-day climb.

The 29-year-old adventurer, who last year single-handedly rowed 3,000m across the Atlantic, said Everest was the toughest challenge he has ever faced.

And he admitted he was not just yet feeling on top of the world after his punishing achievement.

Speaking to the Observer following a three-day spell in Basingstoke hospital after picking up a lung infection in Nepal, he said he was still getting to grips with his achievement.

“It’s all a bit of a blur at the moment. It has not really sunk in that I have climbed the world’s highest mountain,” he said.

“It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Once you are above 7,000m, even with oxygen, it is still incredibly tough. You lose all motivation to eat and drink – you just want to sleep.”

From base camp, James climbed made his way to three camps on the 8,848m mountain.

From camp four, he and a Sherpa guide pushed for the top, entering the “death zone” – the point where humans cannot survive for extended periods of time.

He said it took 11 hours to climb the final 800m to the summit.

He said: “It was so bizarre at the top. I was quite anxious and nervous. I felt incredibly exposed. I took some photos and was there only for 10 minutes before heading down. I was incredibly lucky, it all worked out really well. I had the summit to myself, which was really rare.

“But now I am still paying the price. To get there, I had to push harder and further than I have ever done.

“Rowing the Atlantic was considerably easier. This was different gravy altogether. I did not do anything clever or super human – I just kept on going.”

Alongside the lung infection, he suffered from frostbite on a finger and developed an abscess on his back.

But the adventurer saw first hand the greater price some people pay in an attempt to summit. Days earlier, Japanese climber Taskahi Ozaki died on The Balcony – half way between camp four and the summit.

“I remember passing him. He died so high up they couldn’t remove him. When I passed him, he was just lying there with his hand outstretched.

“It is a stark reminder of how harsh the environment is. While Everest is an amazing place, you really have to respect it.

“There are so many things out of your control and you can be fine one minute but dead the next.

“To get to the top, you really have to want it 100 per cent. For nearly 11 hours, I was thinking ‘why am I doing this, I want to go home’ – but then you see the top and the surge of adrenaline pushes you forward.”

James embarked on his summit attempt to raise money for the Elifar Foundation, which provides disabled children with life-saving equipment.

To donate to the Elifar Foundation, visit www.james ketchell.net