Xia Boyu: He Climbed Mount Everest on His Fifth Attempt at the Age of 69 as a Double Amputee
“Climbing Everest is my dream. I have to realize it. This represents to me a personal challenge as well as a challenge of fate.”
Xia Boyu looked at the spectacular sight of Mount Everest from base camp. He would soon embark on his fifth attempt to reach the mountain's summit. Much had changed for him since the first time he tried to scale the largest mountain in the world. His first attempt occurred in 1975 when Boyu was 25 years old. Then he was a confident young man who was filled with all the excitement associated with climbing Mount Everest. Now, Boyu was 69 years old. He had been unsuccessful on four previous attempts. Boyu was now also a double amputee having lost both of his legs to amputation. His determination was still strong. Boyu had always refused to give up on his dream. It had never left him as the decades passed since his first attempt. Boyu had a feeling this time things would be different. This time he would make it to the top of the world's largest mountain. Xia Boyu was right. On March 14, 2018, Xia Boyu finally reached the summit of Mount Everest.
Ban On Amputees
Xia Boyu's dream of successfully climbing Mount Everest almost became impossible to achieve. In 2017, the government of Nepal issued many new rules associated with climbing Mount Everest. One of the new rules placed a ban on double-amputee climbers. Opposition to the ban was significant. The mountaineering world let the government of Nepal know there were no grounds or merit to this ban. After hearing many appeals to it, Nepal's supreme court changed the decision. The ban against double-amputee climbers was officially ended early in 2018. Boyu would now be able to pursue his dream.
Xia Boyu grew up in China's Qinghai province. It was 1974 when Boyu first experienced mountaineering. He was 25 years old. There was an effort being made where he lived to recruit people for the Chinese Mountaineering Team. Boyu had always dreamed of playing professional soccer but agreed to take the free physical examination being offered. He never thought he would be accepted for the team, but he was offered a place on the Chinese Mountaineering Team. Once this happened, he couldn't get climbing Mount Everest out of his mind.
First Attempt To Climb Mount Everest
A few months after becoming part of the Chinese Mountaineering Team, Boyu made it to the 16,900-foot base camp on the north side of Mount Everest in Tibet. He was a member of a team with over 430 people in it. More than 170 of the team members were mountain climbers. It was quite an attempt to get so many climbers to the top. Out of all the members of the team, nine of them were able to make it to the top of Mount Everest.
Frostbite And Amputation
During this time, Boyu was part of a 20 person detachment. The goal for his group was to establish a high camp on the mountain and then make an attempt to reach the summit. Boyu and the other climbers on his team were able to get to 28,215 feet. They were less than 850 feet from the summit when a severe storm hit them. They were forced to put up tents and get into sleeping bags. One of the men on Boyu's team had lost his sleeping bag. Boyu gave him his sleeping bag because he felt he had a strong ability to tolerate the cold. The team was forced to stay in the same place for two days and three nights. After this, they made their way back down to base camp where they had started. Boyu discovered he had a serious case of frostbite. He was then quickly taken to a hospital in Beijing. This is when both of his feet were amputated.
In 1996, Boyu was diagnosed with lymphoma and his legs were amputated above the knee. This didn't stop him from engaging in athletic events. Boyu won awards for participating in various events in China's National Games for the Disabled. He won in wheelchair basketball, shot put and more. In 2011, Boyu was awarded two gold medals in Italy at the Paraclimbing World Championships. He also hiked across the Gobi and Tengger Deserts and successfully climbed many different peaks over 26,000 feet.
In 2014, 39 years after his first attempt to climb Mount Everest, Boyu made his second attempt. This time an avalanche tore down the entire western shoulder of the mountain and killed 16 Sherpas. His climb attempt was abruptly canceled. The following year, Boyu made his third attempt. It was 2015 and a 7.8 earthquake caused massive damage in Nepal. This resulted in a variety of avalanches on the mountain. It killed 18 people who were trying to climb the mountain. It destroyed the base camp and once again, Buoy was forced to leave without being able to finish his climb. On his fourth attempt in 2016, Boyu was able to continue his climb until a massive blizzard forced him to return to base camp. This time, he was only 300 feet from reaching the summit of Mount Everest.
Reaching Mount Everest Summit
It was 43 years after his first attempt to climb Mount Everest that Xia Boyu achieved his dream of reaching the top of the mountain. It happened on March 14, 2018, at 8:26 am local time. This is when he took his last few steps up to the summit. Boyu was supported by a team of Sherpa guides and wore his state-of-the-art prosthetic legs. This made him only the third double-amputee to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The first was Mark Inglis from New Zealand who did it in 2006. The second was Santiago Quintero of Ecuador who did it in 2013.
There are those in Nepal who would still like to ban disabled climbers. The success of Xia Boyu will make that more difficult. Many believe he has shown it is a lack of experience and not a lack of ability that is most dangerous when attempting to climb Mount Everest. After reaching the summit, Boyu contacted his son with the news of his achievement. His son took to Chinese social media to inform the world about his father's accomplishment. He wrote how his father has realized his 40-year dream. His social media communication also stated this will provide hope for other disabled climbers and anyone who has similar dreams.