A FORMER SAS soldier from Ledbury who lost five fingertips and all his toes while scaling Mount Everest has died, aged 78.

Along with Brummie Stokes, Bronco Lane scaled the world's tallest mountain in 1976.

In doing so, they became the fourth and fifth Brits to achieve the feat.

The weather was fine to begin with on May 16, 1976 but it soon deteriorated - making climbing conditions more difficult for Brummie and Bronco and progress very slow before they reached the summit at 3.15pm.


During the descent, through “white out” conditions, they were forced to bivouac, with no protection, on an exposed and dangerous knife-edge ridge above the South Col.

They passed the night at extreme altitude at 28,000 ft and in intense cold, about -40F.

To keep warm they rubbed each other's bodies and kept a constant check to ensure that the other did not fall asleep as, if they did, it would have been their last.

Although exhausted, frostbitten and barely alive, Brummie and Bronco continued down and were met by a rescue party - John Scott and Pat Gunson.

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Due to the frostbite Bronco and Brummie lost all of their toes and Bronco lost five fingertips while connecting up to a life-saving oxygen supply.

Bronco’s toes and fingertips were donated to the National Army Museum, together with an ice axe.

The toes were not in a good enough condition to be kept but the fingertips are preserved in formaldehyde.

Bronco became a Major, joining the SAS in 1967 and leaving in 2000.

He was awarded a BEM for the Everest Climb and the Military Medal (MM now the Military Cross) for valour in another campaign.

Bronco continued climbing for some years, including more trips to Everest, and made several Antarctic expeditions.

Brummie died in January 2016, aged 70.