First double amputee to summit Everest questions Nepal's climbing ban

Nepalese officials announce new regulations for those hoping to tackle Mount Everest, specifically a ban on some disabled climbers. But Mark Inglis, the first double amputee to ever summit Everest, questions the wording of the proposed ban.
Mark Inglis, the first double amputee to reach the summit of Mount Everest. (Mark Inglis)
Earlier this week, Nepalese officials announced plans to ban inexperienced climbers from Mount Everest. The new rules would require individuals to prove that they had climbed another mountain at least 6,500 metres high. But the limitations would also ban old, young, and some disabled individuals from attempting the feat. Mark Inglis, the first double amputee to ever summit Everest, is taking issue with the plan.

"I think it's just some unfortunate wording really," Inglis tells As It Happens host Carol Off.  "Everest isn't about whether you're disabled or not. Everest is very much for everyone, holistically about whether you're if it's just the disabled then it's a very shortsighted view I would suggest."

Inglis climbed the Tibetan side of the mountain in May of 2006. Using carbon fibre prosthetic legs, he took 47 days to get from base camp to the top. 
(Mark Inglis)

Inglis is particularly offended by the Nepal's tourism minister opinion that "the disabled or visually impaired people usually need someone to carry them, which is not an adventure."

"I can assure you that no one carried me," Inglis explains. "To suggest that all disabled need to be carried up is completely wrong and the only people that should be going there should be people that can do it under their own steam."

Inglis does not deny the need for more stringent regulations. In recent years, there have been a series of high-profile deaths on the mountain. But he feels the real issue is a matter of experience.

"I think if you have a look at the analysis of the data over the years it's not the disabled or the elderly perhaps that are the problem but it's the inexperienced," he explains. "It's about a person's competence on the mountain and that's the thing that we really need to get sorted."
In May of 2006, Mark Inglis became the first double amputee to make it to the summit of Mount Everest. (Mark Inglis)

Inglis says that many reputable companies already include strict regulations to limit climbers eligibility for peak permits. He points out that he needed to prove he could climb an 8,000-metre peak in his own screening process. Despite the wording, Inglis supports the intent of the regulations put forward by the Nepalese officials. He is confident the proposed regulations will not affect his own climbing ambitions.

"Unless there was a blanket ban on what they called 'disabled,'" he argues. "But I guess one of my biggest issues is that I've never seen myself as disabled and hopefully the lessons that I can share with people around the world is that disability is not a very good word. It doesn't describe a person's competence."

He adds, "There is a real challenge around the world to change people's perception of disability and that's one of the things I try and do in my travels. Even if we called it 'differently abled.' I know it's just words but those words mean a lot to many different people."


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