Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mark Inglis, New Zealand Mountaineer

Mark Inglis has fulfilled his lifelong dream.
By Derek Cheng and NZPA

Sir Edmund Hillary has joined the Prime Minister in praising the achievement of New Zealand climber Mark Inglis who last night became the first double amputee to conquer Mt Everest.

And Sir Edmund, who first conquered Everest, on May 29, 1953 with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, added his praise.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald it was "quite obviously a remarkable effort to actually climb Mt Everest with a couple of artificial legs".

He added: "And I have to admit that I admire his considerable effort ... he's done a pretty good job."

Mr Inglis' wife Anne confirmed her husband's achievement yesterday as she spoke to him briefly after he stood atop the 8850m mountain.

"He's incredible," Mrs Inglis said. "He's dreamed of this all his life, probably. He's over the moon.

"They didn't expect to be this early, they thought maybe mid to late May, so Mark will be stoked. I imagine they'll be having a few whiskies."

Inglis conquered Everest on two carbon-fibre artificial legs especially adapted for climbing.

He snapped one of them when he was at about 6400m while preparing to move up to Camp 2, which is at about 7500m.

He was able to fix it well enough to get to his climbing companions, and then rebuilt it with spare parts.

Helen Clark (New Zealand's Prime Minister) said today: "As a very amateur climber myself with two sound legs and having got to 6000m I can appreciate what an amazing achievement this is and I offer him my full congratulations."

And yahoo reported : Inglis was a mountain rescue guide when he and fellow climber Phil Doole had both legs amputated below the knee after suffering frostbite in 1982 when trapped in an ice cave for 14 days on Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak.

Since then, Inglis has taken on a number of challenges and succeeded -- ranging from legless mountaineer and ski guide to research scientist after earning an honours degree in human biochemistry. He is also a leading winemaker and cycling silver medallist at the Sydney Paralmypics.

Before leaving on his Everest expedition, Inglis told AFP the fact that he had lost both legs, and no one has ever scaled the world's highest peak with two artificial limbs, was of secondary importance.

"I'm not doing this to be the first double amputee -- if I am then it's the icing on the cake -- but it's more about I've been climbing most of my life and Everest is the achievement really.

"And it gives you the knowledge of empowerment to do other things."

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