NEWS

Canadian double-amputee summits Mount Everest

05/30/2013 11:43 EDT | Updated 07/30/2013 05:12 EDT
A Canadian double-amputee has summited Mount Everest, almost 60 years to the day after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summited the world's highest peak.

Sudarshan Gautam lost both his arms at the age of 14 while growing up in Nepal after the kite he was flying got tangled in high-voltage wires.

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But when Gautam woke up in the Nepalese hospital he vowed the loss of his arms wouldn't stop him from moving mountains to live life on his own terms.

"When I lost both my arms in the accident, after that, I wanted to do something good for society and something good for the country. After that I was thinking, if I can climb Everest then I want to climb Everest," he said recently in Vancouver after returning from his climb.

Sudarshan started relatively small, climbing mountains a mere 6,000 metres high, a good test, he figured, for his plans to reach Everest's summit at 8,900 metres.

As for having no arms, that was no problem, Sudarshan was told. He just needed a strong body and good friends.

After raising tens of thousands of dollars from donors, Sudarshan, who now lives in Calgary, returned to Nepal, the country he left in 2007, and on May 1, he started his ascent.

But once he reached the Hillary Step, a treacherous 12-metre rockface, he found it too crowded with other climbers and quit his first attempt.

Vowed to try again

"I thought my hardest part, when I reached to the base camp, many people didn't believe I can climb Everest. I remember those people, those things, then I thought, 'I don't give up. I have to go up.'"

And go up he did, summiting 19 days later on his second attempt, just days before the 60th anniversary of the first-ever climb by Hillary and Norgay.

Since then, thousands of other climbers have made the journey to Everest's peak. In one single day last year, 234 people reached the summit.

Sudarshan is not the first double-amputee to climb Mount Everest. In May 2006 New Zealander Mark Inglis, who lost both his legs in a previous climbing accident, reached the summit.

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