Ratrace Leaderboard
Ratrace Leaderboard
Vaude Banner
A password will be e-mailed to you.
Author: Rob Slade

Ben Fogle has shed more light on his climb to the summit of Mount Everest this afternoon, revealing details of how his oxygen tank exploded while he was in the death zone.

In an Instagram post, Ben, who told us about his motivation to climb Everest earlier this year, wrote: “At 8,000m plus, most people need supplemental oxygen in the thin air. At 8,100m, just north of the Balcony, mine exploded. Luckily for me, Ming Dorjee Sherpa was able to give me his mask, regulator and cylinder and he returned to the South Col without O2.”

When a regulator fails, it means that the climber is no longer able to draw oxygen into the mask. In the death zone on Everest, where the level of oxygen in the atmosphere is significantly less than at sea level, this is a huge issue.

“Then our cameraman’s regulator burst at 8,500m and this time Ang Thindu (in tears) volunteered his bottle and regulator,” Ben added.

Unfortunately, the difficulties didn’t end there. “At 8,800m, at a life threatening height, my second regulator exploded on my back. To say it was terrifying is an understatement. My heart sank. If I was scuba diving I would have been dead. Luckily, the heroics of @kentoncool, meant that he gave me his only cylinder and mask. Kenton was able to descend to the South Col for an emergency mask.”

The only blight on the Everest expedition has been a major problem with the Oxygen delivery system. At 8000m plus most people need supplemental oxygen in the thin air. At 8100m, just north of the Balcony, mine exploded. Luckily for me Ming Dorjee Sherpa was able to give me his mask, regulator and cylinder and he returned to the South Col without O2. Then our cameraman’s regulator burst at 8500m and this time Ang Thindu (in tears) volunteered his bottle and regulator. As if that wasn’t bad enough, at 8800m, at a life threatening height, My second regulator exploded on my back. To say it was terrifying is an understatement. My heart sank. If I was scuba diving I would have been dead. Luckily, the heroics of @kentoncool, meant that he gave me his only cylinder and mask. Kenton was able to descend to the South Col for an emergency mask. In total we lost 4 regulators and we met many other teams forced to abandon their attempts due to the problem. It seems to be a major issue on Everest his year and I hope we get to the bottom of the problem before someone loses their life. I’d like to publicly thank the selfless heroics of Ang Thindu Sherpa and Ming Dorjee Sherpa. #everest2018

A post shared by Ben Fogle (@benfogle) on

The manufacturer of the oxygen bottle regulators that failed for Ben’s team is not yet known, but it seems as though other teams on both sides of the mountain have faced difficulties.

A website ran by mountaineer Alan Arnette has been keeping a close eye on the events unfolding on Everest, as it does every season, and it seems the problems first became apparent on 15 May.

Alan wrote: “I spoke live by satellite phone with Adrian Ballinger, founder of Alpenglow, at 6.47am, Everest time. He was at 8,500m, near the 2nd Step on the Tibet side when he said they had 10 of 39 oxygen bottle regulators fail and had to turn back. Everyone was safe and below C3 at 8,300m as of our conversation.”

In a similar scenario to Ben’s, the guides and Sherpas gave up their regulators to ensure their clients still had oxygen, and they subsequently made their way back down the mountain to safety. As they made their way to and beyond Camp 2 on the north side, four more regulators failed.

Aplenglow has since issued the following statement: “Both of our Alpenglow Expeditions teams, along with other teams on Everest, were utilizing an industry standard supplemental oxygen system during their summit push. When multiple of the team’s oxygen bottle regulators malfunctioned, the team made the difficult decision to stop their summit push and return to lower elevation.

“Since this time, it has become apparent that a defective batch of oxygen bottle regulators was released. Multiple teams using the same device have experienced similar oxygen system failures. There are no reported injuries at this time.”

Adventure Travel magazine issue 135