Hari Budha Magar: Nepali climber who conquered Mt Everest despite disability

Kathmandu [Nepal], May 23 (ANI): Hari Budha Magar, the first double above-the-knee amputee to ascend Mount Everest received a heroic welcome as he arrived back at Kathmandu on Tuesday.

Rising out of a van, the 43-year-old record-holding retired Gurkha was welcomed by relatives and family members at Tribhuwan International Airport of Kathmandu.
Last week, Magar created the history as first double above-the-knee amputee to scale the 8848.86 meters tall Mount Everest- the Highest peak in the world. The former British Gurkha who lost his legs to the Taliban-implanted bomb during deployment in Afghanistan had summitted the Everest on artificial legs on May 19, 2023.

“This achievement is the result of collective effort, there’s a team who have betted their lives to make my dream come true- ascend the Everest. I have been supported by the Government of Nepal and people from various nooks and corners of the world. Without your support, always being side by side and blessings it wouldn’t have been possible,” Hari Budha Magar, the record-holding double above-the-knee amputee said while addressing the mass gathered to welcome him.

The British Army veteran who had lost his legs in 2010 during a mission in Afghanistan had fought a legal battle against the Government of Nepal in the last decade against the decision to keep amputees off Mount Everest. The Supreme Court scrapped the government’s decision, allowing him to climb the highest peak just before the pandemic.

Magar was prepared by then but had to wait for another three years to reach the top of the world’s highest peak. Preparing himself for the summit, the record-holding climber in the year 2022 had skydived from a helicopter in the Khumbu region as well as trekked up to the Everest Base Camp on his prosthetic legs laying up the foundation for his dream to be the first above-the-knee double amputee to climb the highest mountain on earth.

It was then that Magar set the record as first above the knee double amputee to trek up to the base of the world’s tallest mountain.

“One step at a time that’s what I focused and every inch towards Everest Base Camp counted. Forget everything, focus one step at a time, that’s how I reach the Base Camp,” Magar had told ANI in an interview in 2022 when he had just returned back from his trek.

Born (1979) and brought up in the Mountainous District of Rolpa- mainland of Maoist Insurgency, Hari Budha Magar always had the desire to climb the mountains. It wasn’t his immediate plan to make summit attempts but the incident of 2010 brought a whirlwind into his life.

Stepping on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) laid by the Taliban, Magar lost both his legs. The incident brought changes to his life but he always held his confidence high and never let himself down.

Within the last decade past the tragedy, Magar summited Ben Nevis (1345 meters) in 23 hours and 20 minutes. Mount Blanc (4,808.72 meters), Kilimanjaro (5895 meters), Mera Peak (6,476 meters), and Mount Toubkal (4,167 meters).

It was his friend in Colorado who helped him greatly. It was his first pair which set off his foot onto the climbing. Later, those legs were improvised for further use and Magar got some new ones for the summit of Everest.

Hari Budha Magar started his career in the British Gurkhas in 1999 when he was just 19 years old and gave the prime of his life to the English government. While serving the British Army and travelling around the world in various deployments, the Afghanistan mission brought a major change in his life.

Immediately after the blast, Hari Budha Magar was airlifted to a nearby base in Afghanistan and medics were able to save his life. Upon realizing the loss of his legs, Magar was left in a stage of horrors and scars all over his body.

He took the support of alcohol to get off anxiety and depression which sometimes made him think of giving up his life. But thinking about the family’s situation afterwards the incidents again gave him the spirit to build back.

Till the time of realization, one and a half years already had passed and in order to distract the mind, he started to take part in sports. He took part in almost all sports that were listed in the Paralympics. Taking part in sporting activities gave him confidence. He started to take part in adventure sports too.

“In the near future, I look forward more about climbing mountains and doing more adventure to raise awareness about disability in Nepal and around the world,” Hari Budha Magar mentioned during the ANI interview in 2022.

It was around 2013, Hari Budha Magar started dreaming about climbing mountains too. A team of army personnel from the British Gurkhas were climbing Everest. And he started talking to Krishna Thapa Magar, the team leader of the Gurkha expedition who then helped settle things up.

In the year 2016, Hari and Krishna came to Kathmandu and went to Gosaikunda and Annapurna Circuit to check Hari’s body adaptability at high altitudes. It was then that Hari Budha Magar climbed the Mera Peak. At that time, he set the record as the first above-the-knee double amputee to climb a mountain over 6,000 meters.

“I believe that life is all about adaptation- nothing is impossible. It shouldn’t hold you, whatever happens in your life, it shouldn’t hold you back. As long as you have a positive mindset and the right attitude you can achieve anything you want in life. It’s not about your legs, it’s not about your hands, not about one of your weaknesses. We all have weaknesses. No one is perfect, simply it is just about the focus on what our strength is and moving forth in life and achieving something and making a difference as well as a legacy to the future generations,” Magar told ANI in an interview back in 2022.

During his childhood also, he was stubborn. When people told him, he could not do a particular thing, he would work tirelessly to prove them wrong. That is what made him the first person in his village to pass the final school exam.

The record-holding climber and the Gurkha veteran is set to return to the UK this week.