Gilian Lee was determined to conquer Mount Everest when he collapsed. A miracle saved him. 


At 7500ft high, Australian climber Gilian Lee collapsed and fell unconscious while climbing the Mount Everest summit.

He was mere minutes away from certain death.

Lee was one of the record number of climbers who rushed to conquer Everest last month. This year’s weather provided only five days of conditions safe enough to reach summit – cutting the normal climbing window in half – and causing human traffic jams on the mountain.

You can watch the preview of his interview with Sunday Night here. 

Video by Sunday Night

The small window has seen 11 people die in two weeks, and Lee came scarily close to being the latest victim.

“My body just switched off,” Lee told Channel Seven in an interview with Sunday Night.

This is his fourth time climbing Everest, after his previous unsuccessful attempts in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

gilian lee
This was his fourth time climbing Mount Everest. Image: Facebook.

This time he had dogged determination to reach the summit - which proved to be almost deadly.

Not only was Lee suffering from a chest infection that saw him "continuously" cough, he was also one of the small percentage of Everest climbers who choose to do so without supplemental oxygen.

On Facebook prior to his climb, the Canberra local was asked by his friend if he would consider using oxygen to "get it done and move on".

"NEVER! It would not be me doing it. I might as well chop 50% of the mountain height off," Lee responded.

But during the mount, fellow climbers noticed his persistent chest infection and urged him to return to base. But Lee refused.

"How do you say no… how do you cancel your dream?" Lee told journalist Matt Doran on Sunday Night.

Prior to the climb, Lee shared on his blog his resoluteness, saying, "I have put a lot of pressure onto myself."

"I am running out of $$ to keep chasing this dream."

Ultimately Lee collapsed, and was found unconscious at 7500 metres before being miraculous found and rescued by climbers who used ropes and a yak to transport him to Kathmandu hospital. He was taken straight to the Intensive Care Unit.


The ugly business of climbing Mount Everest. Post continues after audio.

Lee posted to his Twitter after his collapse: "I am alive."

"Something went amiss on the summit push after C2," he shared. "In hospital... surprisingly mum is here... which is good to get medical advice.

"Body wrecked with liver problems, no phone and vision damage. Piecing what happened. Rest."

Channel 7’s Sunday Night airs at 8.30pm on Sunday.