Friday Sep 29, 2023
Friday Sep 29, 2023

Nepal's amputee climber eyes Everest next season

2022 Jun 10, 9:07, Kathmandu

What was once a dream, is now slowly turning out to be true for former British Gurkha, Hari Budha Magar, who was to climb Mount Everest.

The government of Nepal's decision to keep amputees off Mount Everest to the COVID-19 pandemic and the funds required to make a plan in action has been sorted out for the double-above-knees amputee ex-British Gurkha soldier who had lost both his legs during a mission to Afghanistan in 2010.

"I am trying to climb (Mount Everest) quite for a while, I earlier couldn't climb because of a few reasons- first the Government of Nepal banned double amputees and the visually impaired from climbing mountains in Nepal. That was the thing we needed to fight in the Supreme Court and we overturned that. You can't take away someone's right whatever- they would be able to climb or they can't. We were successful to do overturn that. Later, the Corona pandemic started which further delayed the plan but this year, am preparing myself for the attempt of next spring when I will be climbing Mount Everest," Magar told ANI after coming back to Kathmandu from his trek to Mount Everest Base Camp earlier this year.

Earlier this year, Magar sky-dived from a helicopter in the Khumbu region as well as trekked up to the Everest Base Camp on his prosthetic legs building his dream to be the first above-the-knee double amputee to climb the highest mountain on earth.

While trekking up to the Everest Base Camp he set up the record as first above the knee double amputee to trek up to the base of the world's tallest mountain.

"It was a great experience for me but it was hard. Simply, some of the steps were too big, some were too steep, some had to walk down and some of the steps were too narrow. I use to wake up at 5 in the morning, have the breakfast-which wasn't that pleasant but I had to do it because I was slow and had to leave early so that I can reach the next stopover on time," Magar added.

During his entire trek to the Everest Base Camp, the record summit attempter was helped by porters and accomplices throughout the trek. Overcoming the hurdles of backpain, and wiping the sweats off the prosthetic legs, Magar trekked to the base camp warming up for his next year's summit attempt.

"One step at a time, that's what I focused and every inch towards Everest Base Camp counted. Forget everything, focus one step at a time, that's how I reach the Base Camp," Magar shared.

Fascinated by mountains since childhood

Born and brought in the Mountainous District of Rolpa -- mainland of Maoist insurgency, Hari Budha Magar always had the desire to climb the mountains. It wasn't his immediate plan to make summit attempts but the incident of 2010 brought a whirlwind into his life.

Stepping on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) laid by the Taliban, Magar lost both his legs. The incident did bring changes to his life but he always held his confidence high and never let himself down.

Within the last decade past the tragedy, Magar claimed several peaks including Ben Nevis (1345 meters) in 23 hours and 20 minutes. Before the summit attempt of Mount Everest in 2023, he plans to summit Mt. Himlung (7126 meters) in autumn this year.

"For me the biggest problem is legs. When I had first set the foot onto the world of expedition no double amputees were attempting it. So I had to (make) design the legs. I reached out to my prosthetic centre for legs. Do you have legs so that I could climb the mountains? They said, 'No.' I told them that I have some ideas and would you be able to adopt them and may fix them. They said can't because they can't approve and take a risk."

Then after Magar found a friend in the US who was into the wielding and one above the knee amputee who also was into ice skating in Colorado with cramps on the prosthetic legs.

Magar got one of the pairs from his friend who was working at a garage in Colorado which set off his foot onto the climbing. Later, those legs were improvised for further use but he claims that lots of improvements are yet to be made.

Hari Budha Magar, who started his career in the British Gurkha in 1999, gave the prime of his life to the English government. While serving in the British Army and travelling around the world in various deployments, the Afghanistan mission brought a major change in his life.

"Completely lost the confidence and didn't know what to do. But slowly I took sports and adventure which helped me move forward. It brought back my earlier confidence and now am climbing the mountains!" Magar said.

During his childhood also, he was stubborn. When people told him he could not do a particular thing, he would work tirelessly to prove them wrong. That is what made him the first person in his village to pass the final school exam.

Immediately after the blast, Hari Budha Magar was airlifted to a nearby base in Afghanistan and medics were able to save his life. Upon realizing the loss of his legs, Magar was left in the stage of horrors and scars all over his body.

He took the support of alcohol to get off anxiety and depression which sometimes made him think of giving up his life. But thinking about the family's situation afterwards the incidents again gave him the spirit to build back.

Till the time of realization, one and a half years already had passed and to distract their mind, he started to take part in sports. He took part in almost all sports that were listed in the Paralympics. Taking part in sporting activities gave him confidence. He started to take part in adventure sports too.

"Soon I look forward more to climbing mountains and doing more adventure to raise awareness about the disability in Nepal and around the world," Hari Budha Magar said.

It was around 2013, that Hari Budha Magar started dreaming about climbing mountains too. A team of army personnel from the British Gurkhas were climbing Everest. And he started talking to Krishna Thapa Magar, team leader of the Gurkha expedition who then helped settle the things.

In the year 2016, Hari and Krishna came to Kathmandu and went to Gosaikunda and Annapurna Circuit to check Hari's body adaptability at high altitudes. It was then that Hari Budha Magar climbed the Mera Peak.

At that time too, he set the record as the first above-the-knee double amputee to climb a mountain over 6,000 meters.

With funding secured and the legal battle settled, Hari Budha Magar has his eyes set on Mount Everest (8848.86 meters). Trekking up to the Mount Everest Base Camp in April becoming the first above-the-knee double amputee he skydived into the Syangboche Airport a week later from a helicopter.

"I believe that life is all about adaptation- nothing is impossible. It shouldn't hold you, whatever happens in your life, it shouldn't hold you back. As long as you have a positive mindset and the right attitude you can achieve anything you want in life. It's not about your legs, it's not about your hands, not about one of your weaknesses. We all have weaknesses. No one is perfect, simply it is just about the focus on what our strength is and moving forth in life and achieving something and making a difference as well as a legacy to the future generations."

Not as easy as expected Magar is all braced up and prepared for the bid of Everest in the coming spring season. As per the record, only two amputees, both below the knee, have climbed Everest the recent being Chinese climber Xia Boyu in 2018.


Hari Budha Magar Mount Everest former British Gurkha Mount Everest base camp Rolpa disability in Nepal Gosaikunda Annapurna Circuit NepalNews
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