Without oxygen, scaling Mount Everest is an incredible feat. Without hands, it is impossible.
Except for Sudarshan Gautam.
The Nepalese mountain climber currently living in Calgary lost his hands at 14 when he was electrocuted after flying a kite into a high voltage wire. His doctors did not expect him to live.
“Afterwards, everything was black,” he said. “I decided I had to do something, I don’t have to give up.”
Relearning to do everyday tasks with his feet was difficult. With determination and will, he first learnt how to write holding a pen between his toes. Soon, brushing his teeth, washing, and cooking were as easy as before.
Despite being able to live normally “people only see me with no hands, (they) don’t see my abilities,” said Gautam. He had a mountain of doubt to conquer, literally.
In 2005, Gautam climbed the 5,730-metre Yala Peak in Nepal without oxygen or artificial limbs. “But Everest is not a technical mountain,” he said. “And I am well prepared.”
Planning to climb the infamous peak in March of 2012, Gautam hopes to show people that a disability should not define or limit them.
Furthermore, he aims to raise $1 million to build a school in Nepal.
A nine-person team, including a doctor in case of emergency, will help Gautam climb Mount Everest. When ropes are necessary, he will use his teeth to pull him along.
His wife, Ambika Hamal, and two-year-old son will remain in Calgary while Gautam climbs.
“I am a little bit scared (of his climb),” said Hamal. “I am not as strong as him.
“I really appreciate what he does,” she said. “I am really proud of him.”
Although Mount Everest has claimed over 200 lives, Gautam is sure he will succeed.
“People always think I will die (on Mount Everest), but this is not true. Besides, you could die any day, right here. I am not scared.”