If successful, Xia Boyu will be the first ever double-amputee to reach Everest’s summit from the south side.
Inspiration is never in short supply on Everest. But if you’re looking for yet another reason to follow the spring climbing season, we’ve certainly found one.
Xia Boyu, a 70-year-old Chinese mountaineer and double-amputee, will head back to the highest peak on the planet this spring, according to The Himalayan Times. He hopes to reach the summit from the Nepali side of the mountain. If successful, he’ll become the first double-amputee to accomplish that feat.
Xia Boyu: 5 Attempts on Everest
This most recent attempt marks Boyu’s fifth try to summit the world’s highest peak. During his first attempt in 1975, he and his companions had to turn back just 820 feet (200 meters) below the summit due to poor weather conditions.
Upon retreating to Camp 4 at 26,200 feet (8,000 meters), the team found itself tent-bound for three nights. While stranded high on the mountain, one of the other climbers became seriously ill. In an effort to keep him warm and comfortable, Boyu gave him his sleeping bag.
However, doing so caused frostbite throughout Boyu’s legs and feet. Ultimately, this led to the amputation of both legs from the knee down after he returned home.
Still, the Chinese alpinist never gave up on his dream and returned in 2014. But after a serac in the Khumbu Icefall collapsed and claimed the lives of 16 porters, officials cancelled the climbing season and halted his attempt.
Undaunted, Boyu came back in 2015. But once again he saw the season cut short when a massive earthquake struck Nepal, killing hundreds and injuring thousands more.
Then, he finally had an opportunity in 2016 to make a legitimate summit bid, but poor weather ultimately turned him back. At the time, he was just 325 feet (100 meters) below Everest’s summit.
First Double-Amputee Up Everest’s South Side
After skipping the 2017 season, Boyu targeted this year for his fifth attempt. For a time, it looked like he wouldn’t get the chance to summit Everest. Last fall, the Nepali government passed a set of controversial climbing regulations, one of which banned disabled mountaineers from the country’s Himalayan peaks.
But the Nepali Supreme Court recently struck down that rule, clearing the way for Boyu’s 2018 attempt.
Boyu arrived in Kathmandu earlier this week and should be at Everest Base Camp sometime next week. He will spend the next several weeks acclimatizing for the eventual summit push, which should come sometime around mid-May.
Gear Junkie is following Boyu’s progress closely and will report on any further news of him on Everest.