British adventurer told he would never walk again breaks Everest record

·4-min read
Kenton Cool who has successfully completed his record-breaking 16th summit of Mount Everest
Kenton Cool who has successfully completed his record-breaking 16th summit of Mount Everest

A mountaineer once told he would never walk again unaided after shattering both his heels has scaled Mount Everest for a record-breaking 16th time, the highest number by a non-Sherpa.

Kenton Cool, 48, reached the summit of the 8,849m peak overnight on Saturday, alongside British fitness entrepreneur Rebecca Louise, who completed the climb for the first time.

In his previous 15 trips up Everest, Mr Cool has been a guide to other well-known mountaineers, including Ben Fogle and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, whom he helped overcome a fear of heights.

Mr Cool charges a six-figure sum to amateurs who want to climb Everest and has the best success rate of any guide on the world’s highest mountain, with over 80 per cent of his clients making it to the peak.

Speaking to The Telegraph, his wife, Jazz Cool, said: “I always feel super confident in [my husband’s] ability to reach the summit and get back down safely, it’s just dealing with the variables that brings on the anxiety, including changes in weather, wind strength, avalanche, rockfall, temperatures, other climbers.

Kenton Cool and family - Kenton Cool/PA
Kenton Cool and family - Kenton Cool/PA

“How do I feel about his record-breaking achievement? I met him when he had only done it twice so now it feels a bit like it’s part of the schedule, albeit with a great deal of uncertainty and a not-insignificant amount of danger.

“He is passionate about mountaineering, is most at home in the mountains and feels deeply connected to Nepal and the Sherpa community. I am so proud of his achievement. It’s not just his talent that gets him up there, it’s his approach to decision making while nurturing a super-tight team.”

‘One of the all-time greats’

Mr Fogle described Mr Cool, who lives in Gloucestershire with Jazz and their two children, as “one of the all-time greats”, adding: “To climb Everest once was a trial; to climb it 16 times is heroic.”

Mr Cool helped Sir Ranulph, the explorer, face his fear of heights when he guided him to the mountain’s summit in 2009.

Sir Ranulph had set out to conquer Everest in an unusual bid to battle his fear of high places, after trying to take his mind off the death of his wife.

On his third attempt, following failed trips thwarted by severe exhaustion and a heart attack, he reached the top, as fans marvelled at his tenacity and courage.

The 78-year-old confessed the expedition did not wholly cure his phobia because he failed to look down at all.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes - Steve Parsons/PA
Sir Ranulph Fiennes - Steve Parsons/PA

Alongside his 16 Everest summits, Mr Cool previously became the first person to complete the Everest triple crown, comprising Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse, in one push without returning to base camp.

He was also the first British guide to lead a client to the summit of K2, the world’s second-tallest mountain.

Mr Cool was told he would never walk again unaided after he shattered both heel bones in a rock-climbing accident in 1996.

He had fallen off a cliff face in north Wales, landed 12-15ft below and shattered both his heels at the age of 22.

His injuries had been so bad that the doctors were amazed he hadn’t broken his back. “It was utterly crushing,” Cool says of the diagnosis. “But I was determined to prove everybody wrong, that I could climb again.”

He defied doctors’ predictions with a year of surgery and therapy, but still has chronic pain.

‘Great weather forecast’

Speaking ahead of his push to the summit, Mr Cool said conditions were looking good, with a “great weather forecast” and a “great team”.

“Overconfidence on a mountain like Everest is a dangerous thing, so nothing is assured until you’re back down at base camp,” he said.

“Fingers crossed we’ll be at base camp in about three days and we might be able to crack a beer and celebrate Rebecca’s first summit, my 16th summit and a successful descent by all the Sherpa team.”

A post on Mr Cool’s Instagram page after he reached the top read: “Summit Successful.

“Kenton and team have reached the summit of Chomolungma, Sagarmatha, Mount Everest.

“This marks KC’s 16th summit, a non-Sherpa record.”

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