Blesma backing helps injured veteran reach Mt. Everest summit on third attempt
An injured Ex-soldier, who abandoned ascent to Mount Everest TWICE to save climbers, has finally summited the world’s highest Mountain, Mount Everest.
With unfinished business with the mountain, Les, who was blinded in his left eye after an Afghanistan Blast, began his push to ascend the summit on Tuesday 10 May with the aim of reaching the 8,849m peak in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“On Friday 13th May at around 6 am I finally stood on the summit of Mount Everest!” said Les, who has the last month acclimatising himself on the mountain in order to adjust to the harsh climate safely.
"I'm back down in base camp celebrating with a can of beer. The climb has knocked the life out of me, and I can't wait for you all to see the summit photos.
“Without the support from Blesma, I wouldn’t be able to attempt the climb this year. Blesma’s funding has allowed me to get to Everest.”
The ex-serviceman has already come just 500m from the peak previously in 2016 but heroically stopped in an attempt to save the lives of two fellow climbers on the brink of death.
“On my summit push in 2016, at around 8400 metres, I stopped to rescue Sunita Hazra. She was in a really bad way, suffering from Cerebral & Pulmonary Oedema and frostbite.
“On our way down, we came across another climber called Subash Paul. I thought I could rescue them both, but things started to deteriorate as I began to slip off the side of the mountain. I realised I could only save one, and as Sunita seemed to be the strongest, I motivated her to get up and back down to camp four.
“I had every intention of going back, and could still hear Subash screaming, but was so exhausted I passed out. When I woke in the morning, I heard another team had gone to rescue him. Sadly, however, when I was descending the mountain, I found his body. It knocked me for six.
“I was immensely proud to save Sunita, but I’ve been through all these emotions of what happened that night as I couldn’t save Subash.”
The keen mountaineer was awarded the Silver Medal by the Royal Humane Society for his life-saving actions.
A year later in 2017, Les made another attempt but was destined for the same fate when he rescued an American climber in bad weather, exacerbated by winds of 80mph.
“When you get so close to the summit and there are things that happen outside of your control, you always think of the what-ifs. What if that never happened, I could have been stood on the summit. That’s the thing that is spurring me on for this third attempt. It started out as a personal achievement, but now I want to inspire my daughter.”
Les joined The Light Dragoons in 1997, completing six operational tours including Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. However, his military career was cut short in 2009, when whilst on patrol in Afghanistan, a fellow Afghan Warrior stepped on and initiated an Improvised Explosive Devise (IED). The blast resulted in Les losing sight in his left eye. He was later also diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“I found climbing replaced what I lost when I left the Army. My loss of sight doesn’t affect my climbing on Everest but climbing is an escape from my PTSD. Climbing taught me that there’s got to be something else in life for me to achieve after leaving the Army and I think reaching the summit of Everest is the pièce de resistance.”
If you would like to donate to support Les’s cause, please visit www.blesma.org/donate