A British climber rescued after attempting to climb Mt Blanc in his birthday tracksuit told MailOnline he was ‘well equipped,’ but admitted’maybe it wasn’t a good idea,’ as he confessed he feared he had ‘killed’ on the peak.
Feda Hussein, a 26-year-old aerospace engineer, was discovered at 10,170 feet by alpine rescue crews with a body temperature of 25 degrees Celsius (the typical reading is 37 degrees Celsius).
He’d spent the night in subzero temperatures on the Italian side of the mountain, which straddles the French border and is Western Europe’s highest point.
Officials claimed he was dressed in a tracksuit and hiking boots, and his tent was a plain tarpaulin that had been unusable in the bone-chilling stormy circumstances, with him only ‘five minutes’ away from death.
Feda, speaking exclusively to MailOnline from his hospital bed in Aosta, denied being unprepared, saying: ‘I got lost, then the weather changed, which made things worse for me.’
Feda Hussein, 26, was located by alpine rescue personnel at 3,100m (10,170ft) with a body temperature of 25c – the typical value is 37c. Pictured: Hussein, who was unconscious and on the verge of death, is attended to by an Aosta Valley Mountain Rescue worker.
Feda Hussein (pictured), 26, was discovered on the Bionnassay glacier by Italy’s Aosta Valley Mountain Rescue on Sunday morning after asking for help the night before. He told MailOnline that he was “fully prepared,” but that “maybe it wasn’t a smart idea.”
‘I had crampons, a harness, and a rope with me; it’s just that when they found me, everything was covered in snow.’ It’s all still up there; I’d removed my crampons to climb into my sleeping bag.
‘I’ll admit it was really scary up there – I believed I died at one point.’ I recall calling the rescue crews at 5 p.m. to report my situation, and they told me I had to stay put because the weather was too poor for them to pick me up.
‘We talked for a few hours, and then I called and said, “Don’t worry, I’m going to die in a minute,” and then I blacked out. My next memory is waking up in a hospital.
When they found me, my body temperature had dropped to 25 degrees Celsius and I was five minutes away from death.
‘I couldn’t feel my fingers and hypothermia had set in while I was up there, but I survived and I know I was incredibly lucky.’
Feda, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, told how he went out last weekend to climb Mt Blanc as part of his 26th birthday celebrations on Saturday but was caught out as he made his way through the Bionnassay glacier – a’splendid and severe snow and ice climb’.
‘I wanted to give myself a birthday present, and I thought hiking to Mt Blanc would be wonderful – and I almost got it to the summit – I could see it in front of me, but I was caught out by the weather, although perhaps in hindsight I might have prepared more,’ he said.
When asked about his mountaineering expertise, Feda told MailOnline, ‘I’ve climbed Snowdon a few times and done some indoor climbing, but this was the first time I did something like this on my own – maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.’
Feda’s path from Italy to France is only recommended between June and August when the weather is nice and mountain lodges are open.
‘I’m just pleased the rescuers found me when they did, and I’m grateful to them – I honestly thought I was going to die because my body was acting strangely, but they brought me back from the verge,’ he added. When they found me, I was clearly on my way out.’
The hapless climber is seen asleep in the lower left part of this photograph of the Bionnassay glacier.
The British man was discovered more than 10,000 feet above on a glacier while attempting to climb Mont Blanc’s top.
Doctors have been astounded by his survival, as when the body cools to 25 degrees Celsius, death is nearly assured as the heart begins to decelerate and respiratory arrest occurs shortly afterwards.
Mountain rescue workers told MailOnline that Hussein was “dressed as though going for a Sunday stroll,” with no winter clothing or a weatherproof tent despite the bone-chilling temperatures and severe winds.
Rescuers were taken aback when they learned Hussein had attempted the massive climb without even suitable mountaineering apparel, let alone ice picks, crampons, and other critical climbing equipment.
They assumed he was a desperate migrant who had chosen a mountain route to avoid border controls, but were surprised to discover he was a terribly unprepared British hiker.
‘His body temperature when he was found was 25c and the normal is 37c, he was just five minutes from dying and was lucky to have been found,’ said a mountain rescue official.
‘He was suffering from acute hypothermia and was immediately transported to the hospital, where specialists began trying to restore his body temperature to normal.’
‘The man said he was trying to climb Mt Blanc, but the weather forecast was awful and he wasn’t suited properly for such an excursion – we warn against climbing at this time of year due to the weather.’
Hussein (pictured) continued his journey on Saturday after spending Friday night in a tent on the adjacent Miage glacier, but became lost when the wind whipped up a snowfall.
‘When he called to say he was lost, he said he’d be fine since he had a waterproof tent, but it was more of a tarp and all he had were hiking sticks.’
‘Climbing to 4,800m is a significant undertaking that should only be attempted by experienced climbers who are properly prepared and well equipped.’
‘Because of the weather, we couldn’t send out a team until the next morning, so we told him to stay put and try to find some cover.’
‘At one point, we couldn’t reach him on the phone and there was a real worry he had died, but he was fortunate that we discovered him; five minutes longer and he would have died.’
‘It is expensive to send a team up to rescue someone from the mountain in a helicopter, especially someone who has undertaken an ill-prepared climb, and we are considering sending him a 1,500 Euro bill for the rescue,’ he added.
In August, an enraged mayor on the French side of the Alps enacted a regulation requiring ‘pseudo-mountaineers’ to pay a £13,000 deposit to cover burial and rescue costs before they could climb.
After dozens of individuals ignored warnings, the mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, from which climbers can reach the summit via the Goûter Route, introduced the measure.
Rescuers were astounded to discover Hussein had attempted the massive climb without even adequate mountaineering apparel, let alone ice picks, crampons, and other critical climbing equipment (stock picture shows mountaineer on Bionnassay glacier with extensive equipment)
In August, a French mayor implemented a policy that requires inexperienced climbers to pay an almost £13,000 deposit to cover rescue and funeral costs if they want to climb.
The substantial deposit is divided into two parts: €10,000 covers the expense of a mountain rescue, while €5,000 covers the cost of a burial.
The route is accessible to climbers of all ability levels, and officials report that the number of inexperienced climbers is growing.
Peillex stated in a Twitter statement that the idea for the deposit originated when five Romanian visitors attempted the summit “wearing shorts, shoes, and straw hats” and were sent back by mountain police.
The mayor told The Telegraph, ‘Sometimes dumb people only respond to silly ideas.’
‘They take the same approach as someone contemplating suicide. So I say, let’s do things right and ask them to reimburse us for the costs that will be incurred.
‘People want to climb while carrying death in their backpacks,’ he added.
‘So let us budget for the cost of rescuing them and burying them, since it is intolerable that French taxpayers should foot the bill.’
The mayor of Courmayeur, which sits at the foot of Mont Blanc on the Italian side of the border, called the decision’surreal,’ and claimed that the Italian side ‘will not limit hikers’ ascent.
‘The mountain is not a property,’ explained Roberto Rota.
‘As administrators, we are limited to indicating when the paths are in poor shape, but asking for a fee to ascend to the top is just bizarre.’ If there is an actual risk, you can restrict a path or a passage,’ the mayor told Corriere.
According to the most recent numbers, approximately 25,000 people reach the summit of Mt Blanc each year, and France adopted regulations five years ago to crack down on climbers who started out poorly equipped and had to be rescued.