KATMANDU: Gurkha veteran Hari Budha Magar, who was almost killed serving with the British army in Afghanistan, has become the first double above-the-knee amputee to climb Everest, a member of his team said Sunday.
“He reached the top of Sagarmatha at around 3 PM (Nepali time) on Friday. After successfully summiting the peak, he has now descended to the base camp, and will return to Katmandu tomorrow (Monday),” Him Bista told AFP, using the Nepali name for Everest.
Magar, 43, lost his legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device in 2010 while on patrol in Afghanistan with the Gurkhas, a unit of Nepalis who have fought with the British Army for over 200 years.
Two below-the-knee amputees have reached the peak in the past — New Zealander Mark Inglis in 2006 and China’s Xia Boyu in 2018.
Magar was fitted with prosthetic legs and aside from kayaking around the Isle of Wight climbed several peaks including Morocco’s Mount Toubkal as well as Ben Nevis in Scotland and Mont Blanc in Europe.
But the former corporal was prevented for several years from climbing the world’s highest mountain by a Nepalese law banning double amputees, and also blind people, from mountaineering.
Nepal’s top court quashed the law — which was not in place when Inglis climbed the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) peak — in 2018 under pressure from Magar and others.
“As long as you can adapt your life according to the time and the situation, we can do anything we want. There is no limit, the sky is the limit,” Magar told AFP last month before heading to the Everest base camp.
On his website, his mission was promoted under the slogan “no legs, no limits.”
Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 10 highest peaks and welcomes hundreds of adventurers each spring, when temperatures are mild and often treacherous Himalayan winds are typically calm.
Bigyan Koirala, a tourism department official, told AFP that nearly 450 climbers have already scaled Everest this season.
Authorities have issued 478 permits to foreign climbers this year, with each paying an $11,000 fee.
Since most will need a guide, more than 900 people — a record — were expected to try to summit during the season, which runs until early June.
Nine climbers have already lost their lives this climbing season.