Week In That's Incredible!
Sherpa’s lifelong dream to summit Mount Everest
was not unique; many climbers wish to test themselves
on the world’s highest mountain. What sets Nawang
apart, however, is he fulfilled his dream in 2004—and
he did it with one leg.
years earlier, Nawang’s journey to the top of
the world seemed unlikely. Although he had worked as
a mountaineering guide for years, his climbing career
nearly ended when he lost his left leg in a motorcycle
accident. Refusing to give in to despair, Nawang vowed
not only to climb again, but to do so on Mount Everest.
With the support of American friends, Nawang traveled
to a clinic in the United States and was fitted with
a titanium-and-carbon-fiber prosthesis. Following his
rehabilitation, he accepted an invitation to join the
Friendship Beyond Borders Expedition organized by his
friend Tom McMillan.
ascend Everest, climbers must push the limits of their
endurance and brave the mountain’s many hazards:
crevasses; avalanches; rock fall; ferocious winds; unpredictable
weather; altitude sickness; frostbite; the massive,
unstable blocks of the Khumbu Icefall; and ultimately,
the death zone—the mountain’s upper reaches
where the atmosphere is so thin climbers’ bodies
are unable to recover, even at rest. It is a difficult
challenge for the strongest individuals—on two
legs—but Nawang would do it on one.
May 16, 2004, he completed his journey and became the
first person to summit Everest with a prosthetic leg.
Later, he would tell the Gorkhapatra Daily, "The
disabled need encouragement and opportunity, not mere
sympathy." And a role model like Nawang.
Sherpa discusses his inspirational journey and presents
a one-hour movie documenting the expedition’s
successful summit attempt at the Friendship Beyond Borders
Expedition Presentation, REI, McFadden Place, 1411 Village
Way, Santa Ana, (714) 543-4142; www.rei.com/stores/santaana.
Tues., 7 p.m. $10. Space is limited, so call
for tickets. A portion of the proceeds will go to the
Viswa Darshan Secondary School in Tapting, Nepal.