Legless mountaineer makes it up Everest - thanks to the spare part in his pack
A NEW ZEALAND mountaineer who lost his legs to frostbite in a climbing accident 24 years ago has become the first double
amputee to scale Mount Everest
Mark Inglis, 47, reached the 8,850m (29,035ft) summit of the world’s highest mountain after 40 days of tough climbing
during which he snapped one of his artificial legs in two.
He spoke to his wife, Anne, in New Zealand by satellite phone from the summit. “He only had time to say, ‘I’m
at Camp 4 — I did it’, and the phone cut off,” she said. He told a New Zealand television station that it
was “bloody cold, bloody hard”.
Mrs Inglis said yesterday that her husband had dreamt for most of his life about reaching the summit of Everest and had
regarded as “a minor hiccup” the mishap at the end of April in which he snapped the limb while climbing the North
Col of the peak.
A fixed-line anchor that he was using pulled out of the ice, leaving him sliding uncontrollably down a rope, sometimes
upside down. Mr Inglis stopped the slide but noticed that his right artificial limb had broken. Fortunately, he was carrying
a spare set of legs and repair equipment.
Mr Inglis began climbing in his teens in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. He lost his legs below the knee to frostbite
in 1982 after being trapped for two weeks by severe storms in an ice cave on Aoraki (Mount Cook), the highest peak in New
He and a companion were barely alive when they were taken off the mountain.
He earned a degree in human biochemistry, became a research scientist and then a leading winemaker. At the 2000 Paralympics
in Sydney he won a silver medal in cycling.
Before leaving for Tibet Mr Inglis said that having artificial legs made climbing about 20 per cent more difficult, but
that there were physiological advantages because he had less muscle and a proportionately larger blood volume.
This ensured that his body was warmer at higher altitudes and received more oxygen.
In 2004 he became the second double-amputee, after the Briton Norman Croucher, to climb the sixth-highest mountain in the
world, Cho Oyu, 48km (30 miles) west of Everest. Mr Inglis wrote on his website that that ascent had emboldened him to tackle
the ultimate peak.
Last night Mrs Inglis said: “He’s incredible. He has dreamt of this all his life, probably. He’s over
the moon. They didn’t expect to do it this early, so Mark will be stoked. I imagine they will be having a few whiskies.”
Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealander who conquered Mount Everest in 1953, was among the first to send congratulations
to Mr Inglis.
Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand and an amateur climber, said that Mr Inglis’s feat would tell others
with disabilities that their ambitions should never be limited.
MAKING IT TO THE TOP
1975 Junko Tabei, of Japan, becomes the first woman to reach summit of Everest
1980 Reinhold Messner, of Italy, is first alone and without the aid of artificial oxygen
1998 Tom Whittaker, a Briton, is first amputee
2001 Erik Weihenmayer, an American,is the first blind person
2003 Yuichiro Miura, of Japan, is oldest person to reach the summit, aged 70
Source: www.EverestHistory.com and www.Guinnessworldrecords.com