Karen Sharp

Karen Sharp

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This Double Amputee Veteran Reaches Summit of Mount Everest

Mount Disgrazia illuminates by pink light at sunrise.

Photo: Getty Images

Hari Budha Magar, a Gurkha soldier veteran who lost both legs in Afghanistan, has achieved mountaineering history. He reached Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain, at 3 pm on Friday, having started the climb on 17 April.

While on his adventure, he had to wait 18 days at the Everest base camp for the weather to clear; the veteran and his crew faced freezing conditions and saw two dead bodies being dragged down.

Speaking to the PA news agency from the Mount Everest base camp, he said: "All of my jackets were completely freezing. It was all frozen. Even our warm water, we put hot water in the Thermos, and that was also frozen, and we were not able to drink."
He continued: "When I came down, we ran out of oxygen. The guys came up with oxygen … I was bumping down on my bum, and we had 30, 40 minutes of oxygen, and we still had about two, three hours to get down."

Due to the poor weather, his sunglasses and oxygen mask were frozen over, and he was only able to spend a few minutes at the top of the mountain.

Throughout his climb to the top of the mountain, he was supported by a team of Nepalese climbers led by Krish Thapa, who is a former Gurkha and SAS mountain troop leader. Budha even became the first double above-the-knee amputee to summit the world's tallest mountain.

Budha Magar said he felt his life was "completely finished" when he lost his lower legs in Afghanistan, battling alcoholism and depression.
"I grew up in Nepal, up to the age of 19, and I saw how the disabled people were treated in those remote villages," he said. "Many people still think that disability is a sin of previous life and you are the burden of the earth. I believed this myself because that is what I saw. That is how I grew up."
He continued: "It was a pretty hard time, and at one point, I was just drinking too much to just control my pain and emotions and all the things, and I tried to kill myself a couple of times."

Budha Magar even considered climbing Everest when walking to school barefoot and planned to do so in 2018. This was something that he couldn't have accomplished then because double amputees and blind people were banned in an attempt to reduce the number of climbers dying on the peak.

He even campaigned to have the ban removed so he could attempt to summit the peak.

Once he is down from the mountain, he says he is looking forward to spending time with his family and wants to return to Afghanistan to the site when he loses his legs so he can say "thank you."
He said: "Without [losing my legs], I wouldn't be climbing Everest, so it wouldn't even count much. Whatever happens, it happens for good."

Source: The Guardian & Virgin Radio UK 

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