When Xia Boyu first attempted Everest in 1975, he was 27 years old. Bad luck plagued the trip. They were just 500 feet shy of the summit when weather forced his team down. During the descent, a teammate lost his sleeping bag and Xia offered his up. As a result, Xia suffered severe frostbite on both his feet and eventually had to have them amputated. Twenty years later, he developed lymphoma and both legs were amputated just below the knees. But even after he lost his legs, he didn't lose his desire to summit the world's highest peak.
He tried again in 2014, but that expedition ended prematurely when a serac collapsed, killing 16 climbers. In 2015, the devastating earthquake cut short the season and forced Xia off the mountain. In 2016, he got within 300 feet of the summit only, once again, to be turned back by bad weather. Xia planned to return last year, but the Nepal Ministry of Tourism announced that it planned to ban double amputees from Everest. This year, the Ministry made the ban a rule, but the country’s supreme court subsequently overruled it and Xia decided to make another attempt.
At 8:26 a.m., on Monday, the now 70-year-old Xia finally stood on top of the world.
Xia had left the South Col at 8:00 p.m., Sunday in good conditions. The wind was calm for most of the ascent and temperatures hovered near minus 10 Fahrenheit. He was guided by Kathmandu guide Mingma G Sherpa of Imagine Trek and Expedition. There were four other Chinese climbers who also summited: Liu Yi, Wu Jie, Lok Kee Siu, Ajie Hu, and Gao Li and Canadian Mikey Foreal. Six Sherpas accompanied them: Tamting Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa, Pasang Gomba Sherpa, Kami 'Ang Tsering’ Sherpa, Dendi Sherpa in addition to the leader, Dawa Gyalje Sherpa. (According to Dawa Gyalje, Nima Jangmu became the first Nepalese woman to summit Everest and Lhotse together in one season.) The 14 climbers were among the first to summit Everest this season after a Sherpa team set the fixed ropes to the summit the previous afternoon.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Xia's amputations were above the knee and that he was the first climber with two amputations of that kind to summit Everest. His amputations were below the knee. We regret the error.