Sleep-deprived, starving and gasping for air, former RAF pilot Frank Smythe was alone on Mount Everest.
One by one, his fellow mountaineers had turned back, frozen and exhausted, and the British Everest Expedition, which had begun as a large, military-style assault, had been reduced to just one man.
The date was June 1, 1933, the era of high altitude climbing was in its infancy and Everest, the world's highest peak, had yet to be conquered.
Smythe was now in the so-called 'death zone' - the area above 26,000ft where the amount of oxygen in the air is insufficient to sustain human life.
'Weak as a kitten', he pressed forward, but with each step he sank deeper into the snow. The summit was only 1,000 feet higher, but it might have been 1,000 miles.
Smythe was 'overcome by a feeling of hopelessness and weariness'. His limbs trembled and he felt like he was suffocating.
He made one last attempt to press on, but standing for a few moments 'at the very boundaries of life and death', at an elevation as high as any man had ever reached, he finally concluded that the summit of Everest 'was not for mere flesh and blood'.
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