Money

New policy dents Nepali double amputee’s Everest dream

Discriminatory rule

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Former British Gurkha soldier Hari Bahadur Magar, who lost both his legs during a war in Afghanistan, has decided to shelve his dream of conquering the world’s tallest peak for now, thanks to the government’s latest decision to bar people with disabilities from scaling mountains.

For a double leg amputee, Magar has an exceptional climbing experience, with feats including ascents of Mera Peak (6,476 metres) in Nepal, Mt Blanc (4,200 metres) in France and Ben Nevis (1,345 metres) in Scotland. The 38-year-old has also crossed Thorong La Pass (5,400 metres) and Surya Kunda (4,700 metres).

This time he had made up his mind to climb a little further to a height of 8,848 metres from the sea level.

Had he been successful in this endeavour, he would have literally reached the top of the world—or the peak of Mt Everest, the mightiest of mountains that every mountaineer wishes to climb at least once in his or her lifetime. Had he been able to reach that height he would have become the first above-the-knee double amputee to scale Mt Everest, which would have been a rare achievement.

Unfortunately, Magar will not be able to transform his dream into reality anytime soon because the latest revision made to the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation has prohibited double amputees, persons without arms and legs and blind persons from attempting to climbing mountains in Nepal.

This legal amendment prompted Magar’s sponsors to back off, drying up the source of fund for an expensive journey.

“The decision made by the government is not justifiable in any way,” Magar, who lost both his legs in a 2010 ambush in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, told a press conference organised by the National Federation of Disabled Nepal in Kathmandu on Tuesday. He said the government should assess the “calibre” of disabled mountaineers and allow them to scale peaks based on this evaluation rather than imposing a blanket ban on people with disabilities from climbing mountains.

Magar, who was born in Rolpa, had prepared all equipment required to climb Mt Everest. He had also prepared a team of 14 Sherpas and four rescue personnel for the expedition.

“I only wanted to represent all the disabled people in Nepal and show that we are as able as any able person,” said Magar, who lives in the United Kingdom. “My success would have motivated other disabled people in Nepal to pursue their dreams in spite of challenges.”

Said Mingma Gyoba Sherpa, Magar’s climbing guide who has scaled Mt Everest five times: “He has proven his mettle by climbing various peaks. He has the ability to conquer the Everest.”

People with disabilities have previously reached to the top of Mt Everest. American citizen Erik Weihenmayer is the first blind person to conquer Mt Everest. Mark Joseph Inglis of New Zealand is the first double leg amputee to reach atop the world’s tallest peak.

A Nepali-born Canadian, Sudarshan Gautam, is the first double arm amputee to climb the world’s highest mountain.

Published: 2018-01-24 09:07:37