A Canberra climber rescued near the summit of Mount Everest last month has spoken about how he was "on death's door" on the world's tallest peak.
Gilian Lee collapsed and fell unconscious at 7500 metres while making his fourth attempt to climb Mount Everest without oxygen, in one of the deadliest climbing seasons in recent years.
Speaking to Channel Seven's Sunday Night, Mr Lee said he was fighting a large chest infection on his ascent.
"I'm a stubborn bastard, let's be honest about that. And I've committed one-and-a-half months or so of my life on my last real good, genuine attempt on Everest," Mr Lee said.
"I started to push up and my body just switched off. It was lack of oxygen because of the infection and everything else.
"The more time you spend at the death zone [above 8000 metres] the more punished you get and eventually it'll just tick over and your brain will switch off, and that's what happened to me."
The Canberra man previously attempted to climb Everest in 2015, 2017 and 2018, and said he hadn't wanted to turn back on his fourth attempt.
Mr Lee, who works in Canberra as a public servant, said despite the conditions he didn't want to use oxygen during his climb.
"You've wiped out half the mountain by taking oxygen. The mountain's there for a reason," he said.
After he collapsed, a Sherpa dragged Mr Lee's body back to the nearest camp, before putting him into a sleeping bag filled with hot-water bottles.
As Sherpas brought his body down the mountain, they stumbled on a Chinese rope-fixing team, who then tied Mr Lee onto a sleeping mat to form a makeshift sled.
Mr Lee said he had been semi-conscious as he was carried down to the advanced base camp at 6400 metres, all while his lungs were filling with blood.
"[It was] the most uncomfortable ride known to mankind," he said.
"It was just pure agony and pain, but I didn't care."
The climber was airlifted to a Kathmandu hospital, where he is still recovering from his ordeal.
Mr Lee's mother Julie Peck, who rushed to Nepal to help care for her son, said she was shocked by his condition.
"It seemed like I was looking at an old man, a very sick, old man who has lost all his energy," Ms Peck said,
"The son that I knew, I couldn't recognise him ... physically."
Mr Lee was close to becoming the latest victim of Mount Everest. Eleven climbers have died this year on the peak and it is one of the deadliest seasons in recent years.
Experts have said overcrowding on the approach to the summit has made it more dangerous and the Nepalese government has issued a record number of climbing permits.
Despite his near-death experience on Mount Everest, Mr Lee refused to rule out making another attempt at climbing the world's tallest mountain.
"I'm a honest person. I'm gonna say it's unfinished business. I don't know, I just don't know," he said.
"Let's just readjust, modify the risk and reassess the risk."