Unarmed on Everest: Norwegian Cato Pedersen confirms climbing plans, "Arms are useful. But so is my hook."

Posted: Mar 02, 2007 03:33 pm EST

(MountEverest.net) Norwegian climber Cato Pedersen has confirmed his plans to attempt Mount Everest this spring. In an email to ExplorersWeb he writes, "I lost my left and half the right arm in an accident in 1973. Since then I have been fighting with the belief that I would 'handle what happens'. Arms are useful. But so is my hook - when looking for the good, useful and helpful hands of others."

"I had never pulled a sledge before. I'm not a climber either."

The upcoming expedition, titled Everest Unarmed 2007, celebrates Catos achievements. He will be the first person without arms on the peak and in 1994 he also reached the South Pole with a 240-lb sled after skiing for 56 days over 960 miles after leaving the Weddel Sea.

"I had never pulled a sledge before. I'm not a climber either. Summiting Cho Oyu in 2005 was my second mountain climb. Everest will be my third," Cato says. The team plans on arriving in Kathmandu on April 1 and climbing the north side of Everest.

"Our Motto is 'Give your dream a chance'."

At the age of 12, Norwegian Cato Zahl Pedersen (47) was involved in a high voltage accident and lost both his arms.

Devoted to sports, Cato won 11 gold medals in the Olympics for the disabled in 1980, 1984 and 1988. In 1994, Cato Zahl Pedersen (47) skied to the South Pole, together with Odd Harald Hauge and Lars Ebbesen. The guys went all the way from Berkner Island - and unsupported. In 2004, Cato learned climbing on rope. Last year, he summited Cho Oyu - "unarmed."

Odd Harald Hauge will join Cato also on Everest. The first person without arms on the mountain, Cato will climb the North Col route.
The five climbers in the expedition include Cato Zahl Pedersen, Odd Harald Hauge, Einar Osland (all Norwegian), Camilla Nilsson (Swedish) and Cedric Zulauf (Swiss). There will also be a base camp manager, a photographer and eight Sherpas led by Dawa Chhiri Sherpa.

History of the Everest underdogs

May 25, 2001 history was made when blind climber Erik Weihenmayer stood on the top of Mount Everest. The team was led by Pasquale Scaturro and included a number of all star Everest climbers (Eric Alexander, Sherman Bull and his son Brad, Luis Benitez, Mike Brown, Jeff Evans, Steve Gipe, Didrik Johnck, Charlie Mace, Chris Morris, Mike O'Donnell.) Mike Brown of Serac Adventure Films carried the first High definition cam to the summit and later produced the Farther than the Eye Can See film about the expedition. Brown has since led and documented other disabled climbers, such as heart-transplant survivor Kelly Perkins, on various climbs around the world.

In 2003, Texan Gary Guller became the first person with one arm to summit Everest as part of his Team Everest '03 expedition. He led the largest cross-disability group to ever reach base camp, and everyone of the members made it. He then carried their message to the highest point on earth.

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. On May 16 2004, the Friendship Beyond Borders expedition accomplished its goal when Nawang Sherpa reached the summit of Mt. Everest. Nawang was the first trans-tibial amputee to ever climb an 8000 meter peak. Nawang Sherpa was awarded with a special mention at ExplorersWebs Awards for the best climbs of the year 2004.

Two years after summiting Everest, Nawang Sherpa had to abort an attempt on Cho Oyu last spring. The Friendship without Borders expedition reported serious problems with their Chinese cooks as well as their supplies. The local trekking company they had hired came with cheap, broken tents, and dangerous, maniac-like cooks - the Sherpas were threatened with knives when they tried to enter the kitchen and prepare their own meals.

May 15, 2006 New Zealander Mark Inglis reached the summit of Mt Everest, 23 years after the mountain rescuer got stuck high on Mount Cook and both his legs had to be amputated due to frostbite. Mark's Everest summit was somewhat shadowed by the death of a climber from another outfit, who perished while Mark and his team mates from the Himex expedition climbed past him to the top.

Also in 2006, on Everest north side, disabled climber Pepe Blanco was forced to call off his attempt due to problems with his feet. Pepe reached the North Col feeling strong and motivated, but had to turn back at 7100m. The special boots he used were not adequate for the climb on Everest. Pepe was 65% physically disabled after a paragliding accident.

Finally on Everest last spring, sight-impaired Thomas Weber climbed on the north side guided by Dutch mountaineer and Calif resident Harry Kikstra. Thomas had a rare eye disease: His vision deteriorated at altitude after the removal of a brain tumor. The guide was criticized by fellow climbers after Thomas died on the peak following extended signs of AMS.

#Mountaineering #Polar

Cato making angels in the snow. Both images courtesy of Cato Zahl Pedersen (click to enlarge).
The "Unarmed expedition" was so called because Cato had no arms. The men started from Berkner and skied the 1300 km to the South Pole without resupplies and support. They later also tried Everest, with Cato working the ropes by the way of a hook.

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