Everest Base Camp: Brian Blessed’s Home From Home


Blessed’s Everest Trek Emulates MalloryHe made his first run at the mountain in 1991, as part of a film called Galahad of Everest, which was a tribute to his childhood hero, George Leigh Mallory. On this occasion, Blessed reached Camp IV which, at an altitude of 8000 metres, is 2650 metres up from Everest base camp. This is the last major camp where climbers make their final preparations for the summit. It is also where exhausted climbers rest on their way down from a summit attempt. Blessed’s achievement at reaching this point was made more poignant by the fact he was dressed in same type of clothing as Mallory wore in 1924, for the sake of the film’s authenticity, and he climbed without bottled oxygen.
Blessed’s Second Everest Trek Breaks Records
Far from being put off, Blessed returned for another Everest trek in 1993. This was the first successful commercial ascent of Everest run by the expedition company Himalayan Kingdoms, now called Mountain Kingdoms Ltd. This time, Blessed came better prepared, too. On this occasion he was forced to turn back at an altitude of 8,595 metres, but by reaching this height at the age of 56 years, he had climbed higher than any other man of his age. It remains Blessed’s proudest moment despite his record being broken in 2003 by a climber called Yuichiro Miura, who was seventy years old when he made it to the summit.

The Dalai Lama Blesses Brian’s Everest Trek
A determined man, Blessed tried a third ascent in 1996. This time he was sent back by the expedition leader when the weather worsened. He reached about 7,680 metres, but then was advised he had gone far enough. Blessed was pragmatic: "You have to obey the rules of the mountain," he said. While he waited for his team at Everest base camp, they were able to reach the top, and tie a scarf from the Dalai Lama to the summit pole on behalf of Brian. Brian had become friends with the Dalai Lama after meeting him on his several visits to Nepal. They even exchanged phone numbers.

Clearly his Himalaya adventures have had a profound effect on the actor. In one interview, Blessed described the impact that the scenery can have: "My favourite walk is from the Lukla airstrip just outside Kathmandu to Everest base camp." This Everest trek would mean ascending more than 2500 metres on foot. The classic route takes you through pretty Sherpa villages and dramatic high mountain scenery. "You walk through jungles and valleys and, suddenly, the giant mountains appear through the clouds." But his passion for the region and the mountain are summed up better by his succinct words: "Adventure is life. Everest is life."

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