In two separate incidents on the same day, two men have overcome physical adversities to take the mountaineering world by storm and summit the world's tallest mountain.
At 69 years old, Xia Boyu has become the first double amputee to successfully climb from the Nepal side, and the second double amputee to reach the summit of Mt Everest (8,848 meters or 29,029 feet). In 1975, Boyu was struck by frostbite after giving his sleeping bag to a teammate during a high-altitude storm, later losing both feet. Nearly two decades later, his legs were amputated above the knee due to lymphoma. But he never gave up hope.
"Climbing Mount Everest is my dream," he told Agence France-Presse last month after having made three failed attempts in 2014, 2015, and 2016. "I have to realize it. It also represents a personal challenge, a challenge of fate."
A video posted on Facebook shows Boyu using ladders to cross a gap while climbing the mountain with prosthetics equipped with crampons.
On the same day, Australian climber Steve Plain became the fastest person to summit the highest mountain on each continent. Plain summited Everest 117 days after reaching Antarctica’s highest peak – Mount Vinson – breaking the previous summit speed record by nine days. The climber also overcame physical adversity before setting records. Four years ago, a swimming accident left him with a spinal injury called a “hangman’s fracture”, an accident that doctors told him could leave him paralyzed.
“Words simply can't begin to describe what I can see & how I am feeling – it's very emotional!!" said Plain’s British climbing partner Jon Gupta in a tweet. Polish climber Janusz Kochanski held the previous record for the fastest ascent of the seven summits at 126 days.
In addition to Monday’s record, Plain previously summited two of the tallest peaks on the Australian continent as there is some controversy as to which one dominates. Some believe Mount Kosciuszko (2,228 meters or 7,310 feet) makes the list, while others argue Indonesia’s Carstensz Pyramid tops it with a much more difficult 4,884-meter (16,024-foot) climb. The other summits include Aconcagua (6,962 meters or 22,840 feet) in Argentina, Tanzania's Kilimanjaro (5,895 meters or 19,340 feet), Elbrus (5,642 meters or 18,510 feet) in Russia, and Denali (6,190 meters or 20,308 feet) in the United States.
Since the first ascent in 1953, more than 4,000 climbers have summited Mt Everest. However, the challenge is dangerous, and hundreds of climbers have lost their lives to the mountain over the years.
Both men were assisted by Sherpas in their climbs.