“If at first you don’t succeed try, try again” – this is definitely the case for 69-year-old mountain climber Xia Boyu who successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, this week.
On Monday, the 14th of May, Xia Boyu achieved his goal on his fifth attempt of conquering the iconic mountain spanning over 4 decades of attempts.
You’ll be shocked to learn that it is not his mature age of 69 that sets Xia apart from the other 500 climbers attempting Everest this year… but also that he is a double amputee!
Photo Credit: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images
First Attempt Led to Double Amputation
Xia, now 69 years old, first tried to scale the 8,848m peak back in 1975. Only a tantalising 200m from the peak of the world, the climbers were heart broken as they were forced to turn back due to high-altitude storms.
They were descending in treacherous conditions when Xia, then aged 26, gave up his sleeping bag to a fellow climber who was struggling, according to Chinese media. The severe weather took its toll on him and he discovered the next morning that he had frostbite in his feet, requiring both to be amputated.
“It’s not been easy for me to reach the peak of Mount Everest which I’ve dreamed of,” he was quoted by the Peoples Daily.
Time Line of Xia’s Climbing Dream
1975 – At age 26, Xiya made his initial attempt at Mount Everest but suffered frostbitten feet which required amputation.
1996 – Using prosthetic limbs he climbed mountains around Beijing but tragedy struck when he learnt he had contracted lymphoma and would need both legs amputated beneath the knee.
2014 – Xia was ready to tackle Everest again, but his attempt was not possible due to ice avalanches.
2015 – Having reached Base Camp, his next attempt was delayed due to the disastrous Nepal earthquake of 2015.
2016 – He attempted the climb again; but, within 100m of the peak, he had to turn back due to poor weather.
2017 – His planned attempt for 2018 was nearly derailed by the Nepal government, which in December banned double amputees and blind people from climbing Everest. It was claimed that it would make the mountain safer.
2018 – The Nepal Supreme Court finally ruled that the ban was discriminatory and it was dropped in March 2018.
2018, May – SUCCESS!
Photo Credit: Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters
In April 2018, a month before his fifth attempt, Xia told Agence France-Presse that climbing Everest was his dream.
“I have to realise it,” he said. “It also represents a personal challenge, a challenge of fate.”
On Monday 14th May, Xia finally reached the peak of Mount Everest.
“Boyu finally won his 40-year-long battle for Mount Everest,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, the managing director at Imagine Treks, who accompanied the Chinese climber, told the Himalayan Times.
Other Aamputees who have climbed Everest?
Xia is the second double amputee to climb the summit after the 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.
Congratulations Xia Boyu! Your determination and perseverance are an inspiration to us all!
Feature photo: rockandice.com / courtesy of Xia Boyu