69-year-old Xia Boyu became the oldest double-amputee to successfully summit Everest this month.
For some explorers, the hope of successfully climbing Mount Everest remains a dream; a mere fantasy designed for people determined to conquer it. The summit to the top possesses various dangers: there’s potential of altitude sickness, low temperatures, avalanches - all challenges that hold the risk of resulting in violent ends.
Those statistics, however, represent people: people who have died climbing Everest, who have attempted and failed, and who have achieved their dream. Xia Boyu, a 69-year-old climber from China, is among that last group - he reached the top of Mount Everest on May 14.
That might not seem too exciting, but Boyu’s climb was record-breaking; he became the oldest double amputee to successfully summit Everest.
"Climbing Mount Everest is my dream," he told AFP news agency in April, a month before his accomplishment. "I have to realize it. It also represents a personal challenge, a challenge of fate."
This challenge of fate had come from his amputated legs, a side effect of an unsuccessful climb in 1975. During this expedition, Boyu suffered severe frostbite in both feet after giving his sleeping bag to a climber on his team. They had been stranded in the “death zone” for three nights following a ferocious storm, and were staying in a base camp not far from the top.
More than 20 years after his self-damaging climb, Boyu was diagnosed with Lymphoma. As a result, both legs were amputated - but he never abandoned his desire to reach the top.
After his legs were amputated, Boyu became even more determined to reach the top of the summit. He tried again in 2014, 2015, and 2016 - all three expeditions completed with prosthetic legs. Though none of those summits were successful, his victorious moment came this month, when - 40 years after his first attempt - he finally scaled the top of Mount Everest.
“I know that I can succeed with new achievements only by overcoming difficulties,” Xia was quoted as saying during a conversation with the People’s Daily, “I never give up.”