Veteran Who Lost Both Legs Makes History Reaching Mt. Everest | My Modern Met

By Regina Sienra on May 26, 2023

“If I can climb to the top of the world then anyone, regardless of their disability, can achieve their dream.”

The story of a Nepalese veteran soldier proves that no obstacle can stop you if you have enough determination. Hari Budha Magar, a member of the Ghurka regiment in the British army, lost his legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2010. After fighting depression and alcoholism, he found solace in activities such as skiing and climbing. He then hoped to inspire others and change their perceptions of disability. Budha Magar set his mind on a sizeable goal—reaching the summit of Mount Everest.

The 43-year-old father of three first thought about climbing Everest in 2018. Although he now lives in Canterbury, England, his upbringing in Nepal colored his impression of people with disabilities. “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, according to The Guardian. “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.”

Set on changing these views, Budha Magar began his climb on April 17, 2023, exactly 13 years to the day on which he lost his legs. He was joined by a team of Nepalese climbers, led by Krish Thapa, a fellow former Gurkha and SAS mountain troop leader. Due to adverse weather, the group had to wait for 18 days at the Everest base camp while facing challenging conditions.

“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 toldPA News. Although he thought of giving up, he persisted, finding strength in the promise that he had to return home for the sake of his son.

After a slow but steady climb, Budha Magar finally reached the summit on Friday, May 19, 2023, at 3 PM BST. With that, he became the first double amputee above the knee to make it to the peak of Mount Everest (According to Al Jazeera, two below-the-knee amputees have reached the peak before—Mark Inglis from New Zealand in 2006 and Xia Boyu from China in 2018). Once at the top, the former soldier screamed, “We did it!”

During a satellite call, he explained what it took to get there. “That was tough. Harder than I could have ever imagined. We just had to carry on and push for the top, no matter how much it hurt or how long it took,” Budha Magar said. “If I can climb to the top of the world then anyone, regardless of their disability, can achieve their dream. No matter how big your dreams, no matter how challenging your disability, with the right mindset anything is possible.”

Budha Magar added that those closest to him were also a source of inspiration.  “When things got really tough it was the thought of my amazing family and everyone who’s helped me get onto the mountain that pushed me to the top. Without the support of so many this expedition simply wouldn’t have been possible.”[…]

More: Veteran Who Lost Both Legs Makes History Reaching Mt. Everest

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