Third time lucky on Everest . .

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Former Capital hotel manager makes it to summit of world's highest mountain and flies the Saltire at the top.

IT was a challenge that almost killed him – twice. But far from letting it deter him, Mostafa Mahmoud became even more determined to conquer Mount Everest.

The former Edinburgh hotel worker has now managed to scale the 8850m mountain, proving the age-old saying that third time really is lucky.

Mr Mahmoud, 38, almost died during his previous two bids to scale Everest, but friends happily reported that he reached the summit at 7.15am (2.15am BST) on Sunday, and he planted a Saltire at the top to mark his achievement.

On his first bid, altitude sickness forced him to abandon the climb and rescuers had to retrieve him.

Then, on his second attempt, he contracted an infection and was forced to quit.

However, the Jordanian-born Mr Mahmoud, a former Montpelier Park resident and employee of the Edinburgh Sheraton Hotel, has now become the second Arab to have scaled all seven of the world's highest mountains.

For this reason, the Queen Margaret University graduate received financial backing from King Abdullah of Jordan.

Kuwaiti climber Zed Al Refai was the first Arab seven peaks climber, completing the set by climbing Australia's Mount Kosciuszko in 2005.

Friend Mark Stevenson, 41, a scaffolder who lives in Roseburn Street, accompanied Mr Mahmoud on his second ill-fated bid to climb Everest last year.

He said: "I would have liked to have been with him again but I couldn't afford it this time round. It costs 50,000 just to buy a permit to climb the mountain, and that's before you've added on your expenses.

"I spoke to Mostafa by satellite phone from the top of Everest yesterday morning. He sounded pretty rough and he's still got the toughest part of the challenge to go. The last time he got an infection because the altitude thins the blood, making you more susceptible to diseases of that kind."

Mr Mahmoud has not completed the descent and the largest number of fatalities happen on the way down Everest.

He was due to reach Camp Four, the highest established camp on the rock, yesterday and is expected back at base camp today.

Advertising Salesman Brendan Miles, 32, is another friend who received the good news on Sunday, but he admits to being apprehensive about the climb down.

Mr Miles, of Canonmills, said: "Obviously three-quarters of the way up Everest isn't the safest place in the world, and he's a good friend of mine so I won't be totally chilled until he's back safe at base camp.

"He did a lot of altitude training for this one to make sure he was protected against the pitfalls that greeted him last time.

"When I spoke to him he sounded OK. He was slurring his words, understandably, and it was probably a side-effect of the altitude. But he did manage to tell me that he was proud he made to the top on Jordanian Independence Day – May 25 – and that he planted two flags at the summit, a Jordanian flag and a Saltire."

In an earlier attempt, Mr Mahmoud, who was a food and beverages manager at the Edinburgh Sheraton Hotel, had to give up due to a stomach ulcer at 26,000 ft. The adopted Scot had only considered climbing as a serious pursuit in 2004 and had not climbed a mountain before that.

PEAK TIME ON HIGHEST MOUNTAIN

MOSTAFA MAHMOUD hit the heights during a busy week for the world's highest mountain.

On Sunday it was revealed that 76-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan from Nepal had become the oldest person to ever complete the climb. He beat the record set last year by 71-year-old Japanese climber Katsusuke Yanagisawa. The previous day, Sir Ranulph Fiennes had to abandon his attempt, blaming a lack of sleep. The 64-year-old explorer set out on the final stage of his ascent in the dark without resting because of impending bad weather.

And last Thursday a 47-year-old Sherpa guide named Appa made the summit for a record-breaking 18th time. On the same day a record 86 people made it to the top thanks to favourable weather and the re-opening of the mountain after the Olympic torch relay.

Also this week, chef Gordon Ramsay announced his plans to take on the challenge next year.

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