`The biggest avalanche in Everest history just missed my feet'

Brian Blessed
Saturday 03 May 1997 23:02 BST

Brian Blessed's passport documents his enthusiasm for mountaineering. He collected his most treasured stamp, for Tibet, in 1990. Brian's childhood hero was George Leigh Mallory, the explorer, who disappeared near the summit of Everest in 1924. Brian had always wanted to follow in his footsteps and, at 53, he realised his ambition. Dressed in period clothes, Brian became Mallory and recreated his journey for the film Galahad of Everest.

Brian says: "I wore ordinary leather boots with lots of dubbin and studs to grip the ice, puttees, a Norfolk jacket and a Homburg. The weather was kind, thank God, and I found the clothes good, just heavy."

Further stamps for 1993 show that Brian returned to Everest. Unfortunately the weather was not so kind. Brian explains: "There were the worst monsoon conditions on record. We were coming down the mountain and at 22,000ft an avalanche came down at 200 miles an hour. It was like a giant snowball and I feared for my life. As it headed towards us, we threw ourselves down in a valley. The biggest known avalanche in Everest history just missed my feet, and when I got to base camp the delayed shock was so extreme that my legs wouldn't operate."

The experience hasn't put Brian off and this autumn he is due to spend 12 weeks in a quest for the Yeti, otherwise known as Big Foot, which will be filmed by the BBC. He will be going to Russia, China, Bhutan, Sumatra, the Himalayas, America and Canada and is convinced he'll find Big Foot. He says: "The famous climber Reinhold Messner walked into one in the northern Himalayas and watched it for two-and-a-half hours. He said it was about 8ft tall and made clicking sounds." Brian's passport shows that he most recently visited Canada. He went to Vancouver to record the voice of Tarzan's rival in a new animated film for Walt Disney. He is looking forward to going back: "Vancouver is amazingly beautiful, and there have been sightings of Big Foot around Vancouver Island. Of course, when I meet it, I'll swear to keep its exact whereabouts secret."


On 19 May, an audio cassette called An Evening with Brian Blessed - The Impossible Dream will be released. It is a live recording of Brian's 38-date sell-out one-man show.

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