Ben Fogle on Everest

Just before dawn Ben completed his climb of Mount Everest

He said: “It has been an extraordinary journey to achieve a childhood dream. I also could not have done it without the support of my family.”

His teammate Victoria Pendleton, the double Olympic cycling gold- medallist, tweeted congratulations.

Victoria, 37, was forced to pull out of the climb during the acclimatisation phase after suffering a severe bout of altitude sickness.

Ben heaped praise on his team of helpers including fellow Briton Kenton Cool, also 44, who was his guide, cameraman Mark Fisher, and Sherpa Siddhi Tamang.

“We have become a pretty tight team,” said Ben before he quit Base Camp. “I love their company. It feels like a real adventure.”

He said the climb was in memory of his son Willem.

Ben and wife Marina, who have children, Luca, eight, and Iona, six, were heartbroken after Willem was delivered stillborn at 32 weeks in 2014. He said the death made him “re-evaluate life”’ and ensure he was living “for the now”.

Ben, of Kensington, London, and his team had to endure a gruelling final few hours before he reached the peak.

Ben crossing a ravine

The climb was fraught with difficulty, including altitude sickness

They climbed through the night in order to reach the summit in daylight, entering the so-called “death zone” in which there is a limit to how long a person can survive unless they have recourse to oxygen tanks.

Ben followed a fixed cord pinned into the snow with ice screws by a team of Sherpas.

However, the most intimidating hurdle between Ben and the 29,000ft summit was a sheer rock face known as the Hillary Step. It was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the top of Everest alongside Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

The step is a 39ft slab of rock which stands just 200ft short of the peak.

With a steep drop on either side, it is the most technically challenging part of the climb.

Ben was out of contact with the outside world for most of yesterday as he embarked on the 10-hour descent to Camp 2 at 21,000ft.

In climber’s language, the summit is “only halfway” as coming down is often more dangerous than ascending due to fading adrenaline, growing fatigue, and the effects of altitude and hunger.

Ben paid tribute to his old school friend Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 44, daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, who supported the venture through her global humanitarian initiative, Anything Is Possible.

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