A Chinese mountaineer who lost both legs to frostbite while attempting to climb Everest four decades ago finally fulfilled his dream Monday. Xia Boyu, 70, reached the top of the world’s highest peak at 8:40 am, becoming the first double leg amputee to accomplish the feat from the Nepal side, said Tourism Ministry official Gyanendra Shrestha from Everest Base Camp. More than 50 other climbers also succeeded in scaling the summit on Monday, he added.
According to The Kathmandu Post, Mark Joseph Inglis of New Zealand is the first double leg amputee to summit the world’s tallest peak from the Chinese side. He reached the top on May 15, 2006 after 40 days of climbing. A Nepali-born Canadian, Sudarshan Gautam, is the first double arm amputee to climb the world’s highest mountain. He did it on May 20, 2013.
More than 100 climbers have lined up to climb the world’s tallest peak on Tuesday, said Shrestha. The 2018 Everest climbing season officially began on Sunday with eight high-altitude Nepali climbing guides making it to the summit.
These highly-skilled mountaineers prepare the route for other climbers on the 8,848-metre mountain.
Xia, who lost both his legs in his first attempt to scale Everest in 1975, was a member of a Chinese Everest expedition mission. The group encountered bad weather just below the summit. Xia suffered severe frostbite and lost both his legs below the knee.
Xia returned to Everest in 2014, but an avalanche killed 16 Nepali high-altitude guides that year, forcing the expedition to call off its summit bid. He was back in 2015, but again the climbing season was abandoned when a powerful earthquake struck Nepal on April 25 killing 20 on Everest. He made his last attempt in 2016 when bad weather forced him to turn back. At that time, he had reached just 200 metres short of the summit.
Xia’s dream was nearly shattered after the government amended the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation last December, prohibiting double amputees, persons without arms and legs and blind persons from attempting to climb mountains in Nepal.
However, disability advocacy groups filed a petition at the Supreme Court, arguing that the government had violated the rights of differently-abled people and the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities. Subsequently, the court overruled a controversial government ban in March, allowing Xia to fulfil his four-decade-old dream.
According to the Department of Tourism, there are 346 royalty-paying climbers who will attempt to scale the world’s highest peak this year. Among them, 20 are Nepali climbers. As these climbers need to hire an equal number of high-altitude climbing guides, Everest will see at least 750 climbers plodding up its slope from the Nepal side this year.
The government, which charges foreign climbers $11,000 each, earns nearly $3.5 million in revenues from Everest annually. The government’s statistics show that 5,324 mountaineers have reached the summit of Everest since it was first scaled by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953.