Bear Grylls led secret expedition to Everest to recover the body of Pippa Middleton’s brother-in-law


TV adventurer Bear Grylls has led a secret expedition to Mount Everest aiming to recover the body of Pippa Middleton‘s brother-in-law, who died in a mountaineering accident hours after becoming the youngest Briton to conquer world’s highest peak.

The Chief Scout, who counts the Princess of Wales among his friends, led an expedition to Mount Everest earlier this year to try to recover the body of Michael Matthews.

Mr Matthews died aged 22 in a mountaineering accident in 1999 after following the example of his friend Mr Grylls, who had reached the summit of Everest the previous year at the age of 23. 

He was the brother of Pippa Middleton’s husband, racing driver turned hedge fund manager James Matthews, 47. 

He and his brother, the Made In Chelsea star Spencer Matthews, are friends of Mr Grylls, 48, the son of late Tory MP Sir Michael Grylls.

Michael Matthews, 22, (left), with friend Jamie Everett in front of the summit of Everest in 1999

Michael Matthews, 22, (left), with friend Jamie Everett in front of the summit of Everest in 1999

Mr Matthews on the famous mountain in 1999, when he broke Mr Grylls' record

Mr Matthews on the famous mountain in 1999, when he broke Mr Grylls’ record

Mr Grylls (left) with Neil Laughton on the summit of Mount Everest in 1998

Mr Grylls (left) with Neil Laughton on the summit of Mount Everest in 1998

The Chief Scout, who counts the Princess of Wales among his friends, led an expedition to Mount Everest earlier this year to try to recover the body of Mr Matthews

The Chief Scout, who counts the Princess of Wales among his friends, led an expedition to Mount Everest earlier this year to try to recover the body of Mr Matthews

‘We actually had an expedition on Everest to try to recover the body of the brother of a good friend, who climbed it the year after I was there but was never found,’ Mr Grylls said.

‘We really tried. We had the best team in the world.’ 

The Matthews family are desperate to find his body. 

Speaking at the Oxford Union, the Old Etonian said: ‘We had a team of, like, ten Nepalese guys and some other incredible Western climbers. We did manage to recover one body. It was not of Michael; it was a Nepalese climber.’

Mr Grylls, who has attracted big names including former US President Barack Obama and Hollywood stars Kate Winslet and Ben Stiller to appear on his show, Running Wild With Bear Grylls, added: ‘The story has not come out yet, so I am not going to talk too much about it, but it was a really special moment for [Michael’s] family.

The Chief Scout led an expedition to Mount Everest earlier this year to try to recover the body of Mr Matthews

The Chief Scout led an expedition to Mount Everest earlier this year to try to recover the body of Mr Matthews

Mr Grylls on Mount Everest in 1998, when he was 23-years-old and set a record

Mr Grylls on Mount Everest in 1998, when he was 23-years-old and set a record

The dangers of death on Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain

Mount Everest has a record for the most deaths on a mountain across the globe.

The World’s tallest mountain, which stands at 8,848.86 meters above sea level, has 310 climbers die on its slopes.

Many of their bodies have never been found — others have been exposed as the conditions change on the mountain.

In most cases, it is too difficult to move the body off the mountain due to the harsh conditions and difficult locations.

Some climbers requested that their bodies stay on the mountain if they die while climbing it.

Causes of death on the mountain can include exhaustion, heart attack, and asphyxiation by avalanche. 

Altitude sickness can also play a part in weakening the human body, with climbers becoming too ill to continue, and their body shutting down.

‘It is the reality of high-altitude mountaineering, as people pay the ultimate price up there.’

In March this year, Spencer Matthews was reportedly in the early stages of making a documentary about his late brother’s last days before he died descending Mount Everest.

The CleanCo founder, 33, was said to be ‘hugely passionate’ about embarking on the journey, which would retrace the steps of his sibling.

He was said to have the backing of his parents and his brother James, who is married to Pippa Middleton, to create the ’emotional’ project, which will see Spencer visit his brother’s final resting place. 

The Sun reported that Spencer was intent on bringing his brother’s body home.

A source said at the time: ‘Spencer’s documentary about Michael and his final days is at the very early stages and Disney+ have shown an interest.

‘Though the Matthews family were never able to recover Michael’s body, there is a guide who believes they know his final resting place.

‘It is a hugely emotional project and will be a very upsetting journey for many reasons, but Spencer is hugely passionate about embarking on it if he can make it work.’

Experienced mountaineer Mr Matthews, who had previously conquered Kilimanjaro, died in 1999 on a quest that saw him become the youngest Brit to conquer Everest. He was the 162nd person to die on Everest. 

Although he reached the summit of the world’s highest mountain, he became separated from his group during the route down the mountain. 

Mr Matthews’ body has never been recovered and his family have never been able to fully understand what happened to him. 

Project: In March Spencer Matthews was reportedly in the early stages of making a documentary about his late brother Michael's last days before he died descending Mount Everest

Project: In March Spencer Matthews was reportedly in the early stages of making a documentary about his late brother Michael’s last days before he died descending Mount Everest

Spencer described his brother (left next to sibling James) as an 'incredible force of nature'

Spencer described his brother (left next to sibling James) as an ‘incredible force of nature’

Michael's brother James is married to Pippa Middleton, the younger sister of the Princess of Wales (pictured with Michael, Carole and James Middleton)

Michael’s brother James is married to Pippa Middleton, the younger sister of the Princess of Wales (pictured with Michael, Carole and James Middleton)

Spencer is married to model and TV star Vogue Williams

Spencer is married to model and TV star Vogue Williams

Pippa Middleton named her son Arthur Michael William Matthews in tribute to her father and her husband’s younger brother who died while climbing Everest 

In 2018, Pippa Middleton and husband James Matthews paid tribute to the late Michael Matthews when they named their son.

The couple, who named their son Arthur, gave their baby boy the middle names Michael and William.

Their baby boy weighing 8lb and 9oz was born at the private Lindo Wing, at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, in October 2018.

Pippa Middleton and husband James Matthews gave their son Arthur the middle names Michael and William

Pippa Middleton and husband James Matthews gave their son Arthur the middle names Michael and William

The name Michael is a touching tribute to Pippa’s father and her husband’s younger brother who died while climbing Mount Everest in 1999. 

Michael Matthews went missing on the mountain’s infamous Death Zone while he was trying to become the youngest Briton to climb the world’s highest peak. 

Following his tragic death brother James Matthews accompanied by wife Pippa have become committed to fundraising for poverty-stricken areas in Africa and Asia through the Michael Matthews Foundation

The birth of the couple’s baby came just hours after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they were expecting a child.

He was an accomplished climber who had scaled the Pyrenees, the Swiss Alps and Kilimanjaro before he went on to attempt his fateful Everest trek, which cost around £22,000, using a climbing company.

After leading the group, the rest of the climbing pack claimed he began to struggle near the end and on their descent, a storm with 100mph winds hit leading to Michael’s separation from the group. 

David Matthews, the millionaire patriarch of the family, has always vowed the negligence of the mountain guides was to blame for his death.

He brought a private case against three men working for the firm amid claims the safety briefings were inadequate, his oxygen supply was faulty and the guides failed to keep Michael in their sights during the climb. 

The case was dismissed as the judge insisted there was no evidence of negligence. 

Spencer and his family have since raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for The Michael Matthews Foundation, created in his brother’s memory to support education projects in Africa and Asia.  

In Spencer’s 2013 book Confessions of a Chelsea Boy: The Autobiography, he discussed the devastating loss of his sibling.   

Speaking about the family, including his other brother James, he said: ‘His loss was devastating for the family and over time this became worse because the circumstances surrounding Michael’s death have never been fully explained.

‘James took the news badly. With just a year and a half between them, he and Mike were the closest of friends. The loss was heartbreaking for James.’ 

Of the unanswered questions surrounding the death, Spencer went on: ‘We have not been able to say goodbye in person. We have nowhere to go to sit with him. 

‘He lives on with us in our minds only. On Mike’s birthday James and I send mum and dad red roses for the age he would have been. I guess our family’s way of dealing with losing Mike is to believe that he goes on with us.’ 

In a 2001 Guardian article on the tragedy, Spencer and Michael’s father David explained how he originally trained with his son and his colleague Jamie Everett for the Everest expedition.

David was forced to drop out of the climb after a training climb up Aconcagua  where he discovered that surgery he had had on his carotid artery prevented him from climbing well at altitude.

In 2016, Pippa Middleton climbed to the summit of the Matterhorn, having conquered its fabled 14,691ft peak shortly after daybreak on July 29.

The then 32-year-old made the climb in honour of the younger brother of her  now husband James Matthews, whose life was lost when a Himalayan storm engulfed his assault on Everest in 1999.

Pippa was supported by her brother James Middleton on the climb, with the pair raising money for the charity set up in the name of her fiance’s brother, Michael.

Just hours after her descent, Pippa spoke movingly about what had inspired her – and how she was longing to share her adventure with her fiance.

She told The Mail on Sunday at the time: ‘It was humbling to have been able to climb one of the world’s most beautiful mountains and raise money for a charity created in memory of an extraordinary young man who lost his life on another peak. 

‘Although I have raised money in the past for the Michael Matthews Foundation, it has now become even more important to me and my family.

‘Although neither I nor my brother ever met Michael, we both share his spirit and passion for the mountains. We made this climb knowing he would have been there nudging us on, and we are honoured to be supporting his memory.’

She added: ‘It would have been good if my fiance James had been here to share the experience, something I know he would have loved to have done. Mountain climbing, though, has disturbing memories and understandably James kept his feet firmly on the ground, while giving us his complete support.’

The Princess of Wales’ sister has already conquered Mont Blanc, swum the Bosphorus in Istanbul and cycled across America.

But the challenges of the jagged pyramid of the Matterhorn, which rears up above the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt, are greater than anything she has ever faced.

Each year, the mountain claims three or four lives and was one of the last in Europe to be conquered.

It was a passion for the world’s peaks that beckoned Michael from a promising City job to Everest, where he became the youngest Briton to reach the summit in 1999.

But while he was still in the so-called ‘Death Zone’ – everything from around 26,000ft above sea level, where the air is too thin to sustain human life – he was torn from his path and his guide by a snowstorm.

The foundation founded in his name gives children in some of the world’s remotest places an education. It operates in countries including Burma, Thailand, Nepal and Tanzania, building schools which double as health centres and community hubs.

Much of the fund raising has been done by James Matthews through sports events. His surviving brother, the Made In Chelsea star Spencer Matthews, has said: ‘The loss was heartbreaking for James. With just a year and a half between them, he and Mike were the closest of friends.’ 

EXCLUSIVE: ‘I just assumed he’d come back’: Spencer Matthews admits he ‘never really processed’ late brother Michael’s death until ‘just now’ – following his passing aged 22 while climbing Mount Everest

ByCallum Wells For Mailonline

He recently filmed a documentary about his late brother Michael’s last days before he died descending Mount Everest.

And, reflecting on his sibling’s passing, Spencer Matthews has revealed he ‘never really processed’ his death until ‘just now’, adding that he assumed the ‘superhero’ would return.

The former Made In Chelsea star, 34, was 10-years-old when Michael tragically died aged 22 – after becoming the youngest Brit to reach the peak in 1999.

EXCLUSIVE: 'I just assumed he'd come back': Spencer Matthews has admitted he 'never really processed' his late brother Michael's death until 'just now' - following his passing aged 22 while climbing Mount Everest

EXCLUSIVE: ‘I just assumed he’d come back’: Spencer Matthews has admitted he ‘never really processed’ his late brother Michael’s death until ‘just now’ – following his passing aged 22 while climbing Mount Everest

Speaking on his new podcast, Big Fish, released on Wednesday, he told Ant Middleton: ‘I never really processed Mike’s death until just now. He died in 1999, you know, 23 years ago. And he was 22, the youngest Brit to reach the summit. And I was 10.

‘So, to me, losing him was not something I fully understood. Mike was my superhero figure in my life. I just assumed he’d come back, I didn’t believe that he was dead for a period of time.

‘And you know, as time passed, I understood I would never see him again. I’ve always had this burning desire to find him. And obviously I understood through my teenage years, how complicated that would be.

‘I’m not a particularly externally emotional person. I can’t really remember the last time I cried. I’m a very black and white character who just deals with issues when I face them.

‘I became very close with people on that mountain and they came home, you know, one of the lads lost 20 kilos because he was there the whole time, and he was different, you know, he came back and was affected by it.’

Spencer – who shares children Theodore, four, Gigi, two, and Otto, six months, with his wife Vogue Williams – continued: ‘Otto was five days old when I left for Everest for five weeks. I had nothing but support from Vogue. Vogue was so on board with it and so proud that we were doing it.

‘And she feels really close to Michael having never met him, of course, and was deeply emotionally touched by the whole thing.’

Candid: Speaking on his new podcast, Big Fish , released on Wednesday, he told Ant Middleton 9right): 'I never really processed Mike's death until just now'

Candid: Speaking on his new podcast, Big Fish , released on Wednesday, he told Ant Middleton 9right): ‘I never really processed Mike’s death until just now’

Opening up: He added: 'And you know, as time passed, I understood I would never see him again. I've always had this burning desire to find him'

Opening up: He added: ‘And you know, as time passed, I understood I would never see him again. I’ve always had this burning desire to find him’

Earlier this year, it was reported Spencer was in the early stages of making a documentary about his late brother Michael’s last days before he died descending Mount Everest.

The CleanCo founder was said to be ‘hugely passionate’ about embarking on the journey, which will retrace the steps of his sibling, who tragically died aged 22.

Spencer allegedly had the backing of his parents and his brother James, 34, who is married to the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister Pippa Middleton, to create the ’emotional’ project, which will see Spencer visit his final resting place.   

According to The Sun, Spencer was intent on bringing his brother’s body home, and a source said: ‘Spencer’s documentary about Michael and his final days is at the very early stages and Disney+ have shown an interest.

Project: Earlier this year, it was reported Spencer was in the early stages of making a documentary about his late brother Michael's last days before he died

Project: Earlier this year, it was reported Spencer was in the early stages of making a documentary about his late brother Michael’s last days before he died

Heartbroken: Speaking about his devastating loss, Spencer previously said: 'His loss was devastating for the family and over time this became worse' (Michael Matthews, 22, (L), with friend Jamie Everett in front of the summit of Everest)

Heartbroken: Speaking about his devastating loss, Spencer previously said: ‘His loss was devastating for the family and over time this became worse’ (Michael Matthews, 22, (L), with friend Jamie Everett in front of the summit of Everest)

‘Though the Matthews family were never able to recover Michael’s body, there is a guide who believes they know his final resting place.

‘It is a hugely emotional project and will be a very upsetting journey for many reasons, but Spencer is hugely passionate about embarking on it if he can make it work.’

Experienced mountaineer Michael, who had previously conquered Kilimanjaro, died in 1999 on a quest that saw him become the youngest Brit to conquer Everest. He was the 162nd person to die on Everest. 

Although Michael reached the summit of the world’s highest mountain, he became separated from his group during the route down the mountain.

Michael’s body has never been recovered and the Matthews’ family have never been able to fully understand what happened to him. 

Michael was an accomplished climber who had scaled the Pyrenees, the Swiss Alps and Kilimanjaro before he went on to attempt his fateful Everest trek, which cost around £22,000, using a climbing company.

After leading the group, the rest of the climbing pack claimed he began to struggle near the end and on their descent, a storm with 100mph winds hit leading to Michael’s separation from the group. 

David Matthews, the millionaire patriarch of the family, has always vowed the negligence of the mountain guides was to blame for his death.

He brought a private case against three men working for the firm amid claims the safety briefings were inadequate, his oxygen supply was faulty and the guides failed to keep Michael in their sights during the climb. 

The case was dismissed as the judge insisted there was no evidence of negligence. 

Spencer and his family have since raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for The Michael Matthews Foundation, created in Michael’s memory to support education projects in Africa and Asia. 

Spencer most recently entered the Ice Ultra, which is a 230km self sufficient foot race (carrying all food and equipment) through the mountains of Arctic Sweden.

Latest challenge: Spencer most recently entered the Ice Ultra, which is a 230km self sufficient foot race (carrying all food and equipment) through the mountains of Arctic Sweden

Latest challenge: Spencer most recently entered the Ice Ultra, which is a 230km self sufficient foot race (carrying all food and equipment) through the mountains of Arctic Sweden

Update: The media personality was forced to pull out of the race due to contracting Covid, however he was in 10th position at the time of withdrawl

Update: The media personality was forced to pull out of the race due to contracting Covid, however he was in 10th position at the time of withdrawl

The media personality was forced to pull out of the race due to contracting Covid, however he was in 10th position at the time of withdrawl. 

In October he completed the gruelling six-day Marathon Des Sables in Morocco. 

The ex Made In Chelsea star ran the ultramarathon across the Sahara Desert in memory of his late brother. The entrepreneur ran the 251 km race alongside his business partner David Folkman,.

The ultra-fit pair were raising money for The Michael Matthews Foundation.

Spencer described his brother as an ‘incredible force of nature’ as he took to Instagram at the time to tell his followers about his upcoming adventure.

He wrote: ‘Next week, together with @cleanco MD David Folkman, I will compete in the @marathondessables – a gruelling 251km self-sustained ultramarathon across the Sahara Desert.

Race: Spencer most recently completed the gruelling six-da Marathon Des Sables in Morocco

Race: Spencer most recently completed the gruelling six-da Marathon Des Sables in Morocco

Partners in crime: The entrepreneur ran the 251 km race alongside his business partner David Folkman, 45

Partners in crime: The entrepreneur ran the 251 km race alongside his business partner David Folkman, 45

‘In what’s dubbed as the ‘toughest footrace on earth’, we are raising funds for @michaelmatthewsfoundation – the charity founded in memory of my late brother who died whilst descending Mount Everest in 1999. At the time, he was the youngest Brit to have reached the summit at just 22 years old.

‘My brother was an incredible force of nature and I now feel like I’m in the best place to do this challenge justice; whilst supporting an incredible charity that builds schools and provides safe accommodation for girls in remote parts of Africa and Asia.

‘Please visit the GoFundMe link in my bio, if you are able to support.’

Challenging: 'In what’s dubbed as the ‘toughest footrace on earth’, we are raising funds for @michaelmatthewsfoundation', Spencer wrote

Challenging: ‘In what’s dubbed as the ‘toughest footrace on earth’, we are raising funds for @michaelmatthewsfoundation’, Spencer wrote

Adventurer: Michael Matthews was an accomplished climber who had scaled the Pyrenees, the Swiss Alps and Kilimanjaro before he went on to attempt his fateful Everest trek

Adventurer: Michael Matthews was an accomplished climber who had scaled the Pyrenees, the Swiss Alps and Kilimanjaro before he went on to attempt his fateful Everest trek

In Spencer’s 2013 book Confessions of a Chelsea Boy: The Autobiography, he discussed the devastating loss of his sibling.   

Speaking about the family, including his other brother James, he said: ‘His loss was devastating for the family and over time this became worse because the circumstances surrounding Michael’s death have never been fully explained.

‘James took the news badly. With just a year and a half between them, he and Mike were the closest of friends. The loss was heartbreaking for James.’

Of the unanswered questions surrounding the death, Spencer went on: ‘We have not been able to say goodbye in person. We have nowhere to go to sit with him. 

‘He lives on with us in our minds only. On Mike’s birthday James and I send mum and dad red roses for the age he would have been. I guess our family’s way of dealing with losing Mike is to believe that he goes on with us.’ 

In a 2001 Guardian article on the tragedy, Spencer and Michael’s father David explained how he originally trained with his son and his colleague Jamie Everett for the Everest expedition.

David was forced to drop out of the climb after a training climb up Aconcagua  where he discovered that surgery he had had on his carotid artery prevented him from climbing well at altitude.   



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