When he was offered to attempt Everest, Nawang didnt dare train before the expedition for fear of damaging his brand new leg. Once in BC, he would proudly show his prostesis to all other teams. He would do the same at lectures and interviews after becoming the first trans-tibial amputee to summit Everest (click to enlarge).
Two years after summiting Everest, Nawang Sherpa (a trans-tibial amputee) had to abort an attempt on Cho Oyu just last week. No due to his lack of legs, but due to - bad cooks! Image courtesy of the expedition (click to enlarge).
The Friendship Beyond Borders Expedition is again united for Nawang's next challenge: Americans Tom McMillan and Pete Lardey will assist Nawang in his quest to become the first trans-tibial amputee to summit two 8000ers. The team will also count on climbing Sherpa Nima Gombu, now a 10 time Everest summiteer. In the image, Nawang and his prosthetist Tom Halvorson of Duluth, Minnesota. All images courtesy of Friendship Beyond Borders Expedition (click to enlarge).
March of the underdogs: In Ed Hommer's footsteps - Nawang Sherpa back for Cho Oyu

Posted: Jan 12, 2006 09:48 am EST
(MountEverest.net) You can kill a climber but you can't kill the dream. In 1981, mountaineer Ed Hommer crashed a small plane on Mount McKinley in Alaska. A five day snow storm trapped him on the mountain, and Ed lost his lower limbs to frostbite. Undeterred, Ed returned to climbing and set up the High Exposure foundation, to "make a 'handicap' something that only golfers talk about."

In 2000, on the other side of the world, mountain guide Nawang Sherpa lost his leg in a motorbike accident. In an instant, Nawang had lost not only his limb, but also his job and the dream to climb Everest. Two years later, Ed's foundation High Exposure came to the rescue. Ed got Nawang a new "climbing leg" and the two men set out to scale Everest together. The next year however, on September 23, 2003, a rock struck and killed Ed Hommer on Mount Rainier.

"I'll take you"

Enters American Tom McMillan. "I'll take you," he said to Nawang. Afraid of damaging his brand new leg, Nawang didnt dare to train before the climb. Once on Everest, he climbed always carrying an extra artificial leg in his backpack. With the new leg that Hommer's foundation had given him and the help of Tom, the Sherpa alpinist trans-tibial amputee finally summited Everest in 2004 - a climb for which he was awarded special mention as best of the year by ExplorersWeb.

Friendship Beyond Borders

Two years later, Nawang and Tom continue Ed's mission. Friendship Beyond Borders Expedition has come together once more: Americans Tom McMillan and Pete Lardey will assist Nawang on Cho Oyu, in his quest to become the first trans-tibial amputee to summit two 8000ers. The team will also include climbing Sherpa Nima Gombu, now a 10 time Everest summiteer.

Nawang wont be the only disabled man tackling his second Himalayan giant this year. Mark Inglis, a double-amputee from New Zealand, will be attempting Mt. Everest this spring. Mark summited Cho Oyu in 2004. Incidentally, both Mark and Nawang will be climbing the peak the other summited in 2004.

However, Nawang and Inglis are far from competing for first place. On the contrary, both teams will be in close contact via sat-phone, in order to motivate each other to the top.

March of the underdogs

The expedition is also inviting blind Tibetan youths from the Lhasa-based NGO Braille Without Borders to Cho Oyu. Blind Everest summiteer Erik Weihenmayer has suggested having blind Tibetan youths from the Lhasa-based NGO Braille Without Borders visit Cho Oyu, meet Nawang Sherpa, and perhaps get another chance to practice their mountaineering skills with him and the team.

We have also invited the Chinese Mountaineering Association, Tibet Mountaineering Association, Nepal Mountaineering Association and other climbing clubs in Asia to send aspiring amputee climbers/mountaineers to do the same, reports the team to ExWeb.

It will be nice to see how many of these hardy and determined people will have the chance to do this. Again, we believe the world attention this could create for the abilities of disabled people would be very valuable.

On May 16 2004, the Friendship Beyond Borders expedition accomplished its goal when Nawang Sherpa reached the summit of Mt. Everest. Nawang is the first trans-tibial amputee to ever climb an 8000 meter peak.

A motorcycle wreck in summer 2000 left Nawang Sherpa, an aspiring high-altitude guide in Nepal, a trans-tibial amputee. He got a new "climbing leg" in 2002 thanks to the High Exposure foundation, a non-profit launched by Ed Hommer, who lost his own legs on Denali and hoped to scale Everest one day together with Nawang. Ed's own Everest dream however ended in tragedy a few months later when a rock struck and killed him on Mount Rainier Sep 23, 2003. In 2004 Tom McMillan, a California climber, stepped in to make Nawang's dream to scale Mount Everest a reality.

Nawang Sherpa was awarded with a special mention at ExplorersWebs Awards to the best climbs of the year 2004.

This spring, Nawang is going for his second 8000+ meter peak. Tom McMillan will be again part of the team, as well as Colorado climber Pete Lardey.


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