SEASONED explorer David Hempleman-Adams has beaten the odds to reach the summit of Mount Everest – for the second time.

Mr Hempleman-Adams, 54, and 11 friends, including Swindon entrepreneur Rikki Hunt, set off last month on the gruelling charity trek up the world’s highest mountain.

During the journey, his team experienced extreme weather, sickness, fatigue, and a supply lorry plummeting into a ravine.

But on Saturday, Mr Hempleman-Adams and three other climbers reached the summit – 29,029ft above sea level – where they unfurled the Union Flag, the Explorers’ Club flag and the flag of Iceland supermarket, as the company is backing the trek.

Mr Hunt attempted the final push to the summit, but dropped out.

In the official blog, expedition communications manager Gina Waggott recalled the moment she heard over the radio that some of the team had made it.

“Rodney Hogg, Graham Duff, and Justin Packshaw had all made it by 6.55am on a beautiful, windless day,” she wrote.

“We went outside to peer at the top of the world, three miles above us.

“Everest’s summit is only the size of a dining table: it was amazing to think that they were up there.

“We were delighted, not knowing that the next day and night would be even more stressful than the last.

“Where was David? Then we heard him: ‘I’m on the summit! I’m on the summit!’ Fantastic.”

Mr Hempleman-Adams, who had previously climbed the south face of the mountain, organised this expedition up the north side from Tibet. It was nearly cancelled early on when a truck, carrying vital equipment, plunged into a ravine, damaging equipment and injuring three staff.

But they found replacement equipment, and set about undertaking treks to aclimatise to the extreme conditions.

Then, on May 18, as the weather cleared, they set off for the summit.

Mr Hunt’s wife, Laura, posted a message to say he had turned back just shy of the summit ‘due to weather and other issues’.

She wrote: “Rikki made a decision, to turn back at 8,300 metres, which everyone believed saved his life.

“He ended up sleeping alone at the death zone and then descending, alone, back to ABC [advanced base camp].

“This was because someone had become ill and his sherpa left to look after the casualty. The weather was atrocious.

“During his descent he slipped and completely fell off the mountain, thankfully he was roped and this definitely saved his life.

“He was exhausted and feeling the altitude in every way in his body, this cost him a good half an hour to recover.

“On arrival at ABC everyone greeted him like a hero and the sherpas insisted he was a ‘real’ man for surviving a night at the death zone and then for making absolutely the right decision to turn around when he did.”

The official charity for the expedition is Alzheimer’s Research UK but Mr Hunt is collecting for Hop Skip and Jump, which hopes to build a day centre for children with disabilities.