REAL LIFE

‘Have I made a huge mistake?’ Meet the fearless Aussie adventurer risking his life to make history

So inspiring!

Extreme adventurer Daniel Bull is no ordinary Aussie.

Having made history not once, but three times, the 39-year-old Melburnian is on a quest to reach new heights. Here he tells his story…

Zipping up my backpack, I checked my gear one final time.

It was my second attempt at scaling the highest volcano in the world, Ojos del Salado, in South America.

At 22,614ft, it was all that stood between me and my first Guinness World Record.

As an amateur adventurer, I’d reached the summit of the highest mountains and volcanoes on the other six continents.

I’d ticked off my childhood dream of climbing Everest. But now, in April 2017, I had the chance to make history.

I’d decided to make the climb with a local guide and I needed to leave camp just after midnight to make enough ground before the sun came up.

‘You go first and I’ll be behind you,’ he said.

As the hours passed and the terrain became more dangerous, I wondered if I’d made a huge mistake.

Looking into the darkness behind me, I listened out for the sound of my guide’s steps but I was all alone.

Navigating my way by feel, the icy conditions were brutal.

With the high-altitude taking its toll on my breathing, I knew I’d run out of energy after a certain amount of hours.

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(Credit: Supplied)

Back home, 11,000km away in Melbourne, my dad Martin was following my progress via my GPS tracker.

Along with my mum, Jill, and my nan, Evelyn, they were my biggest supporters.

But now, alone on the side of a volcano, all I could do was conserve my energy as I climbed higher and higher.

Reaching the summit was the ultimate goal but really, it was only half the challenge.

If I wanted to live to tell the tale, I needed enough energy to make it back down the volcano too.

As my breathing became more laboured, fear set in.

Had I gone too far this time?

I’d suffered with chronic asthma as a child and I knew all too well how terrifying it was to run out of breath.

Pushing on, I eventually reached the final ascent.

Ditching my backpack, I scrambled up the peak.

Standing at the top, I took in the breathtaking panoramic views.

But I only gave myself a few minutes to rest and capture a photo, before I began the descent.

It wasn’t until I was reunited with my guide on the way down that the enormity of what I’d achieved set in.

It turned out he had come across a climber in danger and been forced to abandon our expedition to save the man’s life.

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(Credit: Supplied)

The next day, I called my family.

‘I’m safe, I made it,’ I told them.

‘We’re all so proud of you,’ Mum said.

Exhausted and yet delirious with joy, I realised just how far I’d pushed myself.

I was the first Australian and the youngest person in history to climb both the seven summits and seven volcanic summits.

Through blood, sweat and frozen tears, the last 10 years had taken me all over the globe, from Africa to the antarctic.

And with every high and painful low, I learnt more about myself.

I’d pushed my limits, both in body and mind.

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(Credit: Supplied)

Once I was back in Melbourne, I celebrated the only way I knew how – by planning a climb with my family up Mt Kosciusko.

Only this time, there was someone else I needed to invite too.

‘Do you want to join us for a road trip this weekend?’ I asked my nan.

It was her 99th birthday and usually, I was away on my expeditions.

I’d made a tradition of calling her whenever I could from the summit of various mountains.

She was an adventurer at heart, just like my mum.

‘Where are we going?’ she said.

‘To the highest point in Australia!’ I replied.

So, along with my sister Bridie, we set off in the car up Mt Kosciusko and nan even managed to join us for a part of the climb, before I continued to the top with Mum and Dad.

Afterwards, we popped open a bottle of champagne.

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(Credit: Supplied)

Despite achieving my first world record, I wasn’t finished yet.

While at the top of the volcano, I’d spotted a lake and it had sparked an idea.

So, I began planning the record for the world’s highest altitude kayak and in March 2018, I found myself back in the Andes.

Then in January this year, I took on my toughest challenge yet – the world’s highest altitude swim – in that very same lake, 6,370m above sea level – without a wetsuit!

I’d trained as best I could but no amount of cold showers and swims would prepare me for the shock of -2C water.

A doctor had warned the freezing temperatures meant I was at serious risk of having a heart attack, so every stroke was life or death.

But while the pain was agonising, I knew it was temporary and my achievement would last forever.

Now, I’m a three-time world record holder and I use my love of the mountains to inspire others.

My nan, now 102, is especially proud!

‘Whatever will you do next?’ she asks

From climbing trees as a child to conquering the highest peaks on the globe, I never imagined my passion for adventure would take me so far.

To find out more, visit unstoppabull.com

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