ADVENTUROUS climber Michael Buttery enjoyed the high of his life when he conquered the highest mountain in North America.
Michael is believed to be the first person from Hartlepool to have successfully scaled Mount Denali, in Alaska, which stands at 18,000 feet.
He and a party of nine other climbers battled through snow, ice and breathless altitude to reach the summit in 16 days.
Michael, 44, and climbing partner David Bradley, from North Yorkshire, attempted to climb the mountain last year but were defeated after 16 days.
But they were determined to go back and this year and complete their “unfinished business”.
Michael, originally from Rift House, Hartlepool, said: “It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
“It was a massive challenge. When you go on these things you become part of a team and it is all about survival.
“Your lives depend on each other. When you come back you have a different perception on life and become a more positive and better person.”
Their journey to the top was hampered when bad weather swept in at 11,000 feet and they were confined to their tents for several days.
Michael, a welding inspector based in the Netherlands, added: “At 10,000 feet breathing becomes incredibly difficult and at 17,000 feet I didn’t sleep for a couple of days. At that altitude the body starts to die.”
He is friends with fellow Hartlepool climber Ellis Stewart who hopes to attempt Everest next year.
Michael praised his work within the community to inspire school children to follow in his footsteps.