At 69, this double-amputee mountaineer conquered Everest

xia boyu
Photos: Facebook

A group of adventure enthusiasts reached the summit of the Mount Everest on May 14, 2018. As they successfully completed their expedition to conquer the highest mountain on Earth, the oldest member of the gang wailed like a child.

"I finally made it possible," the 69-years-old said even as his voice quivered. It was the culmination of a dream that he had been harbouring for 43 years.

Xia Boyu of China first tried to conquer the Everest in 1975. Not only did that expedition fail, but Xia lost one of his legs. But he refused to back down and tried again. However, fate dealt him another blow and the right leg, too, had to be amputated due to cancer. How would a double-amputee dare to climb the Everest? But Xia dreamt on and the tallest mountain on Earth bowed before his determination.

How it began

Way back in December 1975, 25-years-old Xia was playing football with his friends at a ground in China. He was the team's star player. While they were returning after the game, one of his friends said that the China Mountaineering Association was providing an opportunity to climb the Mount Everest. It was not the dream of climbing the Everest that appeared appealing to young Xia. All those who applied could undergo a free medical check-up. He signed up and quite unexpectedly he was chosen. Without worrying too much about the hurdles or possible consequences, Xia joined the group.

The group began the journey in January 1975. However, snowfall became heavy en route. In between one of the groupmates lost his sleeping bag and fell ill in the frosty weather the next day. Xia, who sympathised with his mate's condition, gave his sleeping bag to him.

Without any warning, the wind and snowfall increased. The only option before the group was to set up a tent at a safe place for the night. When Xia woke up the next morning, he found his leg to be numb due to frostbite. The snowfall kept increasing and the trip had to be cancelled and the group returned. All through this, Xia could not move his left leg. He got admitted to the hospital. Doctors tried for two months but in vain. Finally, the left leg had to be amputated.

The young Xia struggled to come to terms with this loss. He was left crying on the hospital bed for days at a stretch. The pain slowly started to fire his resolve. He vowed to conquer the Everest that had destroyed his dream to be a footballer. He learned to walk using prosthetics.

Xia started climbing small hills and mountains. He held hours-long practice sessions by taking huge loads of weight on his back. He finally was all set to take on his mission.

But fate had other plans and he came down with cancer Lymphoma. Doctors once again had no choice but to amputate his right leg.

Still, Xia refused to give up and battled on. Using prosthetics on both his legs, Xia started learning to walk. Undeterred, Xia continued with his strenuous training for years.

He reached the foothills of the Everest again in 2014. But it was snowing heavily and the attempt had to be abandoned. Again in 2015 and 2016, he tried but the circumstances were not favourable.

By then, the Nepal government banned the handicapped people and blind from climbing the Everest. Xia dreaded that his dream would never be realised.

However, a court removed the ban soon after and Xia reached the Himalayas in his fifth attempt.

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