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Julian Sands discussed dangers of mountaineering months before death

The British actor’s death was confirmed after human remains were found in the San Gabriel mountains (Ian West/PA)
The British actor’s death was confirmed after human remains were found in the San Gabriel mountains (Ian West/PA)

Julian Sands opened up about the “hypernatural” experience of confronting human remains while mountain climbing, in an interview shortly before searches for the British actor concluded in a similar manner.

His death was confirmed last week after human remains were found in the Mount Baldy area of the San Gabriel mountains in southern California.

The 65-year-old had been missing for more than five months after failing to return from a hike in January.

84th Academy Awards – British nominees reception
The British actor’s death was confirmed after human remains were found in the San Gabriel mountains (Ian West/PA)

The latest edition of the Radio Times has an interview with Sands which took place months before his death.

Reflecting on his experience of hiking, he told the magazine: “I’ve found spooky things on mountains, when you know you’re in a place where many people have lost their lives, whether it be on the Eiger or in the Andes.

“You may be confronted with human remains and that can be chilling. It’s not necessarily supernatural, it’s possibly all too natural – what I would call hypernatural.

“You’re in the presence of big nature and big nature is revealing itself in all its power. It can take us over a threshold of hypersensitivity into a realm of natural forces.”

Searches by local authorities had been unsuccessful in the search for Sands, with poor weather conditions hampering efforts since March, until his remains were found by civilian hikers last month.

He was best-known for his breakout role in the 1985 romantic period drama A Room With A View, in which he starred alongside Helena Bonham Carter.

Sands later moved to the horror genre, with appearances in films including Gothic, Warlock and Arachnophobia.

The actor was also a keen climber and described the activity as “solace and a sort of existentialist self-negation, but equally a self-affirmation”.

“If you can deal with dangerous mountains, you can certainly deal with life as an actor – the two are quite complementary,” he added.

(Brian Aris/Radio Times/PA)

In the interview, Sands dismissed the suggestion that he was too old to climb, but said that friends who used to join him had stopped in part due to age.

He also noted that climate change had made certain rock faces more unstable.

Sands said: “If you don’t really have the desire, the focus for climbing a route, if you’re not absolutely committed, it becomes much more dangerous and it’s a much more deflating experience.

“Finding folk whose company I enjoy in such stressful and intimate conditions is not easy.

“The thing about climbing is, you’re always making plans and looking at routes – maybe you end up getting to 5% of all the things you plan to do.”

Sands was considered an experienced and competent mountaineer by his friends, with his hiking partner and fellow actor Kevin Ryan previously telling the PA news agency that he was “the most advanced hiker I know”.