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Rugby star tells how he feared for his life on Everest

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: June 03, 2010

Rugby star Josh Lewsey, pictured on Mount Everest – he feared he might die during his bid to reach the summit.

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A FORMER England rugby player, with a base in St Agnes, feared for his life while trying to climb Mount Everest for charity.

Josh Lewsey, 33, who regularly visits the north coast village and is being supported in his climb by St Agnes-based ethical clothing firm Finisterre, set off to conquer one of the world's most dangerous mountains in March with his colleague Major Keith Reesby to raise money for Help for Heroes and Combat Stress.

He ran into difficulties on May 22 when a damaged oxygen tank caused his air supply to freeze at 8,700m (28,543ft) while he was almost at the top of Mount Everest, which is about 8,848m (29,028ft) high. It forced him to descend to 8,200m (26,903ft) without oxygen support, and then back to the advanced base camp where he told his support team.

He said: "I was passing dead bodies and was worried if I was going to make it."

The men were scaling the North Col route that, by the end of 2009, had claimed 216 lives since 1922, according to research by Eberhard Jurgalski for 8000ers.com, an information site about mountains above 8,000m. Ernie Capbert, from Finisterre, said: "To simply attempt the highest peak in the world is a summit in our books."

The pair, who have never climbed before they started training for this mission, have now abandoned the climb.

On their blog Major Reesby said at one point his corneas apparently began to freeze and equipment issues played a part in the climd being called off.

He added: "We did not stand on top of Everest, and despite the disappointment and the fact that we were so close, on reflection the whole experience has been exceptional.

Mr Lewsey hopes to organise a talk in St Agnes about his experience.

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