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Double above-knee amputee defies the odds to summit North America’s highest peak

World record-setting mountaineer, Hari Budha Magar, is now the first ever double above-knee amputee to summit Denali (20,310ft / 6,190m), North America’s highest peak, despite catastrophic weather that resulted in one of his climb team being airlifted from the mountain.

According to US National Park Service statistics (1903-2023) just half of all attempts to climb Denali are successful.

Hari and a five strong team, including his Brother Nanda and Mingma Sherpa, who summitted Everest with Hari last year, and three guides from Alpine Ascents, started their climb on 17th June.

climbing Hari Budha Magar

Deep snow and strong winds meant Hari and his team endured long days of climbing, with two additional camps added to compensate for Hari moving slower through the soft snow, due to his disability.

It was at camp three when high winds and blue ice caused one of Hari’s guides to slip, suffering a climb-ending head injury and needing a helicopter rescue from the mountain.

“The conditions were some of the worst I’ve experienced on the mountain,” said Hari as he recounted the incident. “The wind was whipping across your face, and it was a complete whiteout.

“It was such a shame he fell and had to be taken off the mountain, but he insisted we carry on.

“Once we knew he was safe and on his way to hospital we packed up and continued up the mountain with his kit spread across the rest of the team.”

Yet conditions worsened still with visibility reducing to a few feet and winds increasing as they climbed into the more technical mountaineering section of the ascent.

Hari Budha Magar

“We couldn’t see anything – it really was scary,” added Hari. “If it wasn’t for our amazing guides we would have been forced back down. Something we considered many times on our ascent.

“It was a case of grinding it out. Just focussing on the next step. However, the reality that we could be forced back down due to the weather was always a huge concern.

“As the decision about pushing for the summit or turning back became more critical, the weather started to lift. The wind dropped and the visibility dramatically improved.

“It really is incredible how quickly conditions can change in the mountains.

“This gave us the opportunity and the boost we needed to make the summit.

“As we reached the top it was incredible, making all the struggle before worthwhile. We had achieved what many hadn’t on this tough mountain.”

Hari, 45, a veteran Gurkha, and his support team, spent two weeks on the challenging ascent of Denali in Alaska, before reaching the summit at 20,310ft (6,190m) at 7.30pm, Friday, June 28.

Safely back off the mountain, an exhausted Hari said: “Life is all about adaptation. We have shown once again that nothing is impossible.”

Hari Budha Magar 2

Denali presented Hari with some unique challenges. Due to the depth of soft snow on its lower slopes, Hari had to travel to a US training camp in March ahead of the expedition to learn how to snowshoe efficiently on his adapted prosthetics.

In a bid to take his “no legs – no limits” message around the world to change perceptions about disability, Hari is aiming to summit the seven highest peaks across the seven continents.

Having already climbed Everest (Asia), Mont Blanc (Europe) and Kilimanjaro (Africa), the successful ascent of Denali leaves Aconcagua in Argentina (South America), Puncak Jaya, Indonesia (Oceania) and Mount Vinson (Antarctica) as the final three peaks to complete Hari’s ambitious goal.

Ahead of the latest expedition Hari was given a boost by being awarded an MBE in the recent King’s Birthday Honours. This was in recognition of his world record-setting Everest climb last year and continuing to raise disability awareness.

Born in a cowshed in a remote area of Nepal, Hari served for 15 years in the Royal Gurkha Rifles, losing both legs to an IED while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2010. He now lives in Kent with wife and children.

Hari has launched an appeal (www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/hbm7summits) to raise funds to enable his climbs and the positive impact they will generate in changing people’s perceptions of what is possible for people of disability.

Hari Budha Magar 3

Hari would like to thank his partners Barratt Developments, Branding Science, Gurkha Welfare Trust, Ottobock, Parajumpers Clothing, Team Forces and Therabody for their amazing support. As well as supporters including NSSLGlobal, SunGod Eyewear, Leki Gloves and Poles, Precision Fuel & Hydration, Team 365 and more.

Hari also continues to fundraise the “height of Everest plus two zeros” for veterans and military charities. That would equate to £884,900.

His charity partners include the Gurkha Welfare Trust, On Course Foundation, Team Forces Foundation, Blesma and Pilgrim Bandits, who have all been instrumental in helping veterans in the UK. To donate to the charity appeal, visit Hari’s website www.HariBudhaMagar.com

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