KATHMANDU: A Chinese climber who lost both legs to frostbite on Everest four decades ago finally reached the summit Monday, just months after the revocation of a controversial ban on double amputee climbers attempting the world’s highest peak.
Xia Boyu, 69, summited Everest early Monday on his fifth attempt to reach the top of the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) mountain.
“He reached the summit this morning, along with seven other members of his team,” said Dawa Futi Sherpa of Imagine Trek and Expedition, who organised Xia’s Everest bid.
Xia’s dream of standing at the top of the world was nearly thwarted by the Nepal government, which last year banned double amputee and blind climbers from summiting its mountains.
The ruling was overturned by Nepal’s top court in March, which branded it as discriminatory towards people with disabilities.
Xia first attempted to summit Everest with a Chinese government-backed team in 1975, but was thwarted by bad weather.
He became stuck in the frigid low-oxygen environment near the top of Everest and suffered severe frostbite, losing both his feet.
In 1996 his legs were amputated just below the knee after he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.
The tenacious climber returned to Everest in 2014 and 2015 but Nepal’s climbing season was cancelled both years due to disasters.
Bad weather forced him to turn back during his previous attempt in 2016 when he was just 200 metres from the summit.
“Climbing Mount Everest is my dream. I have to realise it. It also represents a personal challenge, a challenge of fate,” Xia told AFP last month before heading to the mountain.
The only other double amputee to summit Everest is New Zealander Mark Inglis, who achieved the feat in 2006.
Xia is among the first of hundreds of climbers expected to summit Everest this month during a narrow window of good weather.
Nepal has issued 346 permits for this year’s spring climbing season, which runs from mid-April to the end of May.
Most Everest hopefuls are escorted by a Nepali guide, meaning about 700 climbers will try to reach the top in coming weeks.
Another 180 climbers are preparing to summit Everest from its north side in Tibet, according to the China Tibet Mountaineering Association.
Last year, 634 people made it to the top and seven died trying. --AFP