Sudarshan Gautam, a 25-year old Nepalese man living in Calgary, lost his arms in an accident 15 years ago. The experience of being both pitied and laughed at by his family and school friends, as well as the general negative attitude of others toward his disability prompted him to prove that losing his arms did not make him disabled. To this end, he learned to drive a non-modified motorbike and a car with manual transmission. He also declared that he would summit Mount Everest in 2012.
Mount Everest, being the highest point on earth, gets its share of “firsts.” Following the famous first successful ascent by Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay, there had been a constant number of both legitimate and eyebrow raising “firsts.” On the one end of the spectrum, there was the first ascent without oxygen (1978) by Reinhold Messner as well as the first winter ascent by Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki in 1980. On the other end of the spectrum, there was a dangerous helicopter landing in 2005, an insane ski descent, a sleep-over on the summit, etc. Although the mountain has been commercialised for many years now (with “tourist” climbing companies charging as much as $70,000 per person to lead clients to the roof of the world), the mountain continues to be both a dangerous place and a place of infinite “firsts” with individuals always willing to risk their lives (and the lives of other people on the mountain since rescue efforts at such extreme altitudes are very dangerous endeavours) to be the youngest, the oldest, the fastest, etc. to reach the summit.
Climbing Everest is definitely a personal accomplishment and it has certainly been quite a political endeavour ever since people had set their minds on climbing it. I am not surprised that Sudarshan Gautam is hoping to promote his noble cause (of advertising abilities of individuals with disabilities) by attempting to climb the highest mountain in the world. There have been other individuals with disabilities who have successfully navigated the treacherous ridges of Everest. Erik Weihenmayer was the first blind person to summit Everest and Mark Inglis was the first to do so without legs.
The questions, however, that seem to bother me are Continue reading