70 years after its first ascent, Mount Everest is no longer an exclusive mountain. It has been scaled over 11,000 times since New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the world’s highest point at 8,849 meters on 29 May 1953. For the anniversary year, the Nepalese government has already (as of 28 April) sold more climbing permits to foreign climbers than ever before: 466. So it’s going to be crowded on the normal route through the Khumbu Icefall, the Western Cwm (the “Valley of Silence”), via the Lhotse flank to the South Col at just below 8,000 meters and then up to the summit. Hari Budha Magar has waited a long time to be able to join the ranks of the summit contenders on the highest mountain on earth.
Successful in court
Five years ago, the Nepalese had already wanted to climb Mount Everest – with bottled oxygen and Sherpa support. But in early 2018, the Nepalese government decided to stop issuing Everest permits to double-amputee climbers, blind people and even solo climbers. Hari, as a soldier in the British Gurkha Regiment, had lost both legs above the knees in a 2010 bomb blast in Afghanistan. Along with others, he sued in the Supreme Court – and succeeded: In March 2018, Nepal’s highest court overturned the controversial rule.
Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro, Mera Peak
Hari postponed his plan to 2019, later to 2020. Then the COVID-19 pandemic threw a spanner in his works. Now everything – including funding – is finally falling into place for him, so he wants to put his plan to climb Mount Everest into action this spring. In the meantime, the Nepalese has stood on the summits of Mont Blanc (4,810 m), Kilimanjaro (5,895 m) and Mera Peak (6,476 m), among others. Hari climbed the latter mountain in Nepal (with his helpers) on 16 April for the second time after 2017 – to acclimatize for Everest.
“I hope my journey of this expedition will send hope, positive vibes and optimism around the world,” Hari wrote on Instagram yesterday from Everest Base Camp. The 42-year-old is upfront about his disability: “If I had the opportunity to bring my legs back today, I would actually decline. It was only after losing them that I found my true self, the real Hari Budha Magar.”
20 Everest summit successes by handicapped people
The number of disabled climbers on Everest is statistically negligible. By 2022, according to the Himalayan Database, a total of only 34 climbers (one of them a woman) with handicap had attempted to scale the highest mountain on earth – with all types of disabilities being grouped together here. 20 of them reached the summit, the most recent being Andrea Lanfri, an double amputee climber from Italy, in spring 2022. It goes without saying that the disabled climbers needed the support of others. But after all, that is now the case for almost all summit aspirants on Mount Everest.