KATHMANDU, May 15 (IANS): A 70-year-old Chinese mountaineer who lost both legs to frostbite while attempting to climb Mount Everest four decades ago has successfully climbed the mountain in his fifth attempt.
Xia Boyu, 70, reached the top of the world’s highest peak at 8.40 a.m. on Monday, becoming the first double leg amputee to accomplish the feat from the Nepal side, said Tourism Ministry official Gyanendra Shrestha from Everest Base Camp.
More than 50 other climbers also succeeded in scaling the summit, said the official.
The same day Steve Plain, an Australian, also reached the Everest, setting a speed record for climbing the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents.
Xia was part of a 20-man Chinese Everest expedition mission that tried to scale the 8,848 metre peak in 1975. However, about 200 metre from the top the climbers were forced to turn back due to high-altitude storms.
That time Xia suffered severe frostbite and lost both his legs. He returned to Mount Everest in 2014, but an avalanche killed 16 Nepali high-altitude guides that time, forcing the expedition to call off its summit bid.
He was back in 2015, but again the climbing season was abandoned when a powerful earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, killing 20 on the Everest.
Xia made his last attempt in 2016 but bad weather forced him to turn back. His dream was nearly shattered after the government amended the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation in December, prohibiting double amputees, persons without arms and legs and blind persons from attempting to climb mountains in Nepal.
However, disability advocacy groups filed a petition in the Supreme Court, arguing that the government had violated the rights of differently-abled people and the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities.
Subsequently, the court overruled the controversial government ban in March, allowing Xia to fulfil his four-decade-old dream.
Xia had told a friend earlier this week that he had been preparing for the moment for 43 years.
“It’s not been easy for me to reach the peak of Mount Everest which I’ve dreamed of,” he said.
He is the second double amputee to climb the Everest after New Zealander Mark Inglis, who reached the peak from the Tibetan side in 2006.
Santiago Quintero, who had half of each foot amputated during a climb in south America, also reached the peak in 2013.