A Gurkha soldier veteran who lost both legs in Afghanistan has achieved mountaineering history after reaching the top of Mount Everest.
Hari Budha Magar, who lives in Canterbury, Kent, reached the summit of the world’s tallest mountain at 3pm on Friday, having started the climb on 17 April – exactly 13 years since he lost his legs after an IED explosion.
While waiting 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.”
However, the poor weather meant 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 the challenge, he was supported by a team of Nepalese climbers, led by Krish Thapa, also a former Gurkha and SAS mountain troop leader. Budha Magar 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 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.”
He added that he first thought about climbing Everest when he was walking to school barefoot and planned to do so in 2018. However, double amputees and blind people were banned in an attempt to reduce the number of climbers dying on the peak.
The veteran helped campaign to have the ban removed so he could attempt to summit the peak.
Budha Magar left Nepal to serve as a corporal with the Ghurka regiment in the British army before his injury.
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 lost his legs so he can say “thank you”.
He said: “Without [losing my legs], I wouldn’t be climbing Everest, so and it wouldn’t even count much. Whatever happens, it happens for good.”
According to theguardian.com. Source of photos: internet