‘Seeing that body saved my life’: Man’s near-death experience

As Daniel Bull sat back in the snow at the top of Mount Everest he took in his achievements silently and alone – or so he thought.

“I noticed out of the corner of my eye, I could see someone else there and it kind of gave me a boost knowing I wasn’t completely alone so I did a double take – there was someone sitting a few metres from me in the same position, but they had been there a couple of years, they had a thin layer of ice over them,” he recalls, still getting chills as he recounts the 2008 Everest memory.

“That realisation hit home because I realised that would be my fate if I didn’t keep moving. I’d heard stories of people sitting down and never getting up again.

“Seeing that body saved my life.”

It’s not the first time the Melbourne 39-year-old has faced death.

READ MORE: Four reasons why things have turned horrific on Mt Everest

Daniel Bull on the Vinson Summit in Antarctica.Source:Supplied

Navigating through an ice maze on Mount Sidley.Source:Supplied

The three-time Guinness World Record holder nearly plummeted to his death during his descent of Ama Dablam in 2004.

Considered “unclimbable”, he became the youngest Australian to conquer the mountain in the Himalayas, but it all could have ended in disaster.

“It was definitely my first big near-death experience,” he said.

“I basically lent backwards over a ledge to abseil down a vertical ice cliff. Even though I’d done it 100 times or more, there’s always the anticipation of trusting in the rope.

“I realised after it was too late that the rope had frozen over so I wasn’t able to control the friction.”

Mr Bull fell about 50m, desperately trying to hook his boots into the ice.

“I was frantically trying to get a grip into the ice,” he said.

“In my mind I was thinking, this is it, it’s all over. Hanging upside down I realised I avoided death.”

Mr Bull said most of the accidents and deaths happened on the way back down from the summit. Despite getting a feeling of elation at the top, he said he was then hit with the dreaded feeling knowing he was only halfway.

READ MORE: Photo of Mt Everest seen from Kathmandu Valley goes viral

Mr Bull’s tent on Mount Everest back before the trek became busy.Source:Supplied

Mr Bull broke the world record for the youngest person in the world to climb the Seven Summits and the Volcanic Seven SummitsSource:Supplied

After conquering mountains, Mr Bull wanted to take his adventures to the next level and add water.

In 2006 to 2017 he broke the record for the youngest person in the world to climb the Seven Summits and the Volcanic Seven Summits.

In 2008 he completed the world’s highest altitude kayak and in January this year topped it off with the world’s highest altitude swim – without wearing a wetsuit.

After trekking for three weeks to get to the world’s highest lake in Chile, he reached it at 6370m above sea level – the equivalent of 50 Sydney Harbour Bridges.

With 50 per cent less oxygen at that height, his body was starved of oxygen getting to the lake.

Mr Bull on his highest swim.Source:Supplied

Once at the lake, he carved out a 100m lane in the ice before taking off his gear and completing the swim in -2C water.

To prepare, he took cold showers every day for a year and regular ice baths.

But even a top cardiologist warned him his preparation wouldn’t be enough.

“He basically said ‘Dan, don’t do it’. I normally like to listen to medical advice but this time I had to ignore it,” he said.

“You risk cardiac arrest through a combination of lack of oxygen but even the cold water by itself, the shock factor. That was probably one of my biggest fears.

“I’ve always had a fascination with heights but with my most recent world records, I’ve been about discovering the limits.

“If I used the protection of wetsuits I wouldn’t have known that.”

Mr Bull broke the world record by one vertical kilometre.

Celebrating the swim, the lake now frozen over.Source:Supplied

His highest kayak. He was the first human to enter this lake at 5707m.Source:Supplied


With travel off the table, Mr Bull has his sights set on conquering more mountains in Australia – and even New Zealand when we have a travel bubble there.

“I got excited about that potential travel bubble with New Zealand because despite all of my travels and mountaineering feats, I’ve never been to New Zealand,” he said.

“I love the idea of embracing what we’ve got on home soil. It’s exciting idea not to have to leave Australia and still be able to have those adventures.”

He plans on designing his own record on home soil – the ‘7 Aussie Summits’ – climbing

to the highest point of each Australian state and territory.

“I’m optimistic about that happening.”

In the meantime, Mr Bull has taken his inspirational speaking events online.

Crossing a crevasse in the Icefall on Mount Everest.Source:Supplied


Total combined days of climbing: 500 days (plus decades of training)

Favourite climb and why: Mount Everest as it was a childhood dream come true after years of hard work and sacrifice.

Hardest climb: The North Face of the Eiger – considered among the most challenging and dangerous ascents in the world.

Most rewarding climb moment: Reaching the summit of Mt Vinson and Mt Sidley in Antarctica and hoisting the Australian flag for an Australian first.

‘Secret’ to climbing success: Packing a bag of Peanut M&Ms each time!

Biggest fear: Despite scaling the world’s greatest heights, Mr Bull’s biggest fear is sharks.

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