Chinese double amputee reaches Everest summit

Double amputee climber Xia Boyu in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on April 4, ahead of another bid to climb Everest.
Double amputee climber Xia Boyu in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on April 4, ahead of another bid to climb Everest. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KATHMANDU • A Chinese climber who lost both legs to frostbite on Mount Everest four decades ago finally reached the summit yesterday, just months after the revocation of a controversial ban on double amputee climbers attempting the world's highest peak.

Mr Xia Boyu, 69, summited Everest on his fifth attempt to reach the top of the 8,848m 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 Mr Xia's Everest bid.

Mr Xia's dream was nearly thwarted by the Nepal government, which last year banned double amputee and blind climbers from scaling its mountains. The ruling was overturned by Nepal's top court in March, which branded it as discriminatory towards people with disabilities.

Mr 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 in 2016 when he was just 200m from the summit.

"Climbing Mount Everest is my dream. I have to realise it. It also represents a personal challenge, a challenge of fate," Mr Xia said last month before heading to Everest.

The only other double amputee to summit Everest is New Zealander Mark Inglis, who achieved the feat in 2006.

Mr 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 end- May. About 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.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2018, with the headline 'Chinese double amputee reaches Everest summit'. Print Edition | Subscribe