Decades after he lost his feet on Everest, double amputee finally reaches summit

Published: May 15, 2018 12:32:40 | Updated: May 17, 2018 20:21:03

In 1975, Xia Boyu handed his sleeping bag to a suffering teammate - and lost both feet to frostbite. Photo courtesy: Everest Today

A Chinese climber who was crippled by frostbite on Everest more than 40 years ago has scaled the summit at the start of this year's climbing season.

In 1975, Xia Boyu lost his feet after giving his sleeping bag to a sick teammate during a high-altitude storm.

Now aged 69, he became the second double amputee to scale Everest - and the first ever from the Nepalese side, according to a BBC report Tuesday.

Australian Steve Plain, meanwhile, set the record for the fastest climb of the highest mountains on seven continents.

Plain's achievement also features a story of overcoming physical challenge, coming four years after he broke his neck in a surfing accident.

'A challenge of fate'

The storm that caused Xia's frostbite struck in the "death zone" above 8,000m (26,200ft) and stranded his team for three nights, not far from the summit.

As a result, he needed to have his feet amputated. Then, in 1996, his legs were amputated above the knee as he battled lymphoma.

Despite his injuries, he never abandoned the notion of reaching the summit.

"Climbing Mount Everest is my dream," he told a global news agency in April. "I have to realise it. It also represents a personal challenge, a challenge of fate."

After the disastrous 1975 climb, he made three more attempts, in 2014, 2015, and 2016. The 2016 attempt brought him close to the summit before a blizzard set in.

However, a ban on climbers like Xia almost ended his attempts.

Nepalese authorities moved last year to ban double amputees - along with blind and solo climbers - from attempting to reach the summit.

The authorities said the new rules were a safety measure but they were struck down by the courts earlier this year as discriminatory.

On Monday, supported by a team of Sherpa guides, Xia reached the summit in what the Himalayan Times says is the first successful double amputee climb from the Nepal side.

It also makes him only the second double-amputee to ever reach the summit of the world's highest mountain. Mark Inglis, of New Zealand, became the first when he reached the summit in 2006.

Inglis also lost his limbs to frostbite in a climbing accident, after spending two weeks in an ice cave sheltering from a mountain storm.

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