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I nearly died on Mt Everest; Mersey climber in rescue drama after collapse on highest peak.


CLIMBER Steve Hunter's charity trek to Everest nearly claimed his life.

The father-of-five from Hightown, near Formby, was in the foothills when he collapsed.

Mr Hunter, 42, said: ``I know I am very lucky to be alive. If it hadn't been for the help of two people, things could have been very different. ''

Mr Hunter was with his brothers Alan, 49, and Bill, 55, when disaster struck.

He developed severe altitude sickness while trekking to Everest base camp, 3, 440 metres above sea level.

Overcome with sudden dizziness, he began vomiting.

Without oxygen masks and a depth bag to reduce pressure on his brain, he began a six-mile journey accompanied only by a young Sherpa.

While fighting to remain conscious, Mr Hunter slipped into a melting glacier on the giant Khumbu ice flow. He said: ``I don't even remember panicking. I was just feeling so sick. ''

Dragged out of the glacier by his guide, they reached their destination to discover there were still no oxygen or depth bags.

With Mr Hunter now vomiting blood, an American doctor who was also backpacking insisted he was taken down another 2, 000 metres where he would be safe to sleep.

Mr Hunter, who works as a warden at Altcar rifle range, said: ``I was fairly calm until near the end, when I saw the blood and the doctor and the Sherpa talking quickly in Nepalese.

``I just remember waking up and feeling my brother Bill's hand. He had been at the front of the group at the base camp and hadn't realised I had gone, but climbed down straight away when he found out. ``It took us 10 days to get up to the base and just three and a half hours to get down. ''

He was treated at a hospital in Kathmandu.

He later discovered he had developed the deadly high altitude cerebral oedema, which causes the brain to swell and can lead to fatal coma if victims fall asleep.

Now safely back at home with sons Gino, 22, Stephen, 19, Mark, 16, Shannon, 10, and daughter Celine, nine, Mr Hunter said: ``I'm just glad to be alive and it makes you realise what is really important in life.

``My wife Jackie has told me that from now on, I am not to travel any further than Southport!''

n The three brothers are now collecting sponsorship money which will go to Clumber Lodge children's home in Freshfield.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 13, 2004
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