Double amputee veteran becomes first person to reach Everest Base Camp with above-the-knee prosthetics

Adventurer and former Gurkha Hari Budha Magar has wanted to climb Mount Everest since childhood. Now he is closer to realising that dream.

After a year of training, he has become the first person to reach Everest Base Camp in above-the-knee prosthetics.

Hari told Forces News: "I feel amazing, I feel great.

injured veterans embark upon a twelve-day trek in the Himalayas
Former Gurkha Hari Budha Magar is a record-breaking mountaineer (Picture: Pilgrim Bandits).

"I feel proud of myself, and hopefully I've made [those who helped me] feel a little bit proud. 

"It was easier than I thought it would be. 

"One problem I had was my right stump had a bit of phantom pain, so I didn't sleep well."

Hari served with the Royal Gurkha Rifles for 15 years but was injured in 2010, losing both legs above the knee after an IED blast during a foot patrol in Afghanistan.

The adventurer was due to attempt climbing Everest in April 2018 but was stopped by the Nepalese tourism ministry, which brought in restrictions prohibiting blind people and double-amputees from climbing the world's highest mountain.

Then when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Hari was prevented again from taking on the challenge.

But now, after breaking this world record, his new aim is to reach the mountain's summit this time next year.

Injured armed forces veterans taking part in the Everest challenge CREDIT Pilgrim Bandits
The group of injured veterans are trekking to Base Camp, Mount Everest, thanks to the charity Pilgrim Bandits (Picture: Pilgrim Bandits).

After Hari reached Base Camp, he met up with a group of fellow injured veterans as part of a 12-day expedition.

The trip, organised by veterans' charity Pilgrim Bandits, began on 19 April and is set to end in Namche Bazaar where four veterans (including Hari) will carry out tandem skydives over Mount Everest at 23,000ft.

Hari said: "I'm really excited to do the tandem sky jump and really grateful for this opportunity to push my limits and giving me confidence back."

Also joining the group is veteran John Chart, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) and has lost the use of his arms as a result of the illness. He hopes his participation raises awareness of the disease.

"[The expedition] is exciting. It's everything I thought it would be, and more.

"I have motor neurone disease, so I've lost the use of my arms at the moment. If you think of Stephen Hawking, the professor, it's the disease he had, there's nothing they can do for you, so it's 100% fatal.

"I'm trying to achieve as much as I can and raise awareness for MND because, not for effect, it's too late for me but it's not too late for other people's children."  

Injured army veteran Martyn Compton on the Base Camp challenge (picture: Pilgrim Bandits).
Injured army veteran Martyn Compton on the Base Camp challenge (Picture: Pilgrim Bandits).

Pilgrim Bandits says that the aim of the challenge is not only to show the veterans what they can achieve with a strong support network but also to act as a fund and awareness-raising event for the charity, which organises gruelling expeditions for injured service and emergency personnel, many of whom are amputees or have PTSD. 

Chief executive of Pilgrim Bandits, Matt Hellyer, spoke to Forces News from Namche Bazaar in Nepal, saying: "The aim of us getting to this beautiful place is to, number one, see Mount Everest and have a lifetime experience.

"Number two is to complete tandem parachute jumps with Mount Everest in the background, providing lifetime experiences. 

"It's been quite tough – the walk itself is very steep and very long, the altitude really gets to you. Even now we have been at 4,000 metres and we are all still suffering."

The challenge will end on 2 May, but the charity hopes this is the first of many expeditions it can organise after taking an extended break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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