Inspirational

I climbed Everest on my hands!

'I wasn't sure if I would make it,' Scott told that's life! 

Gulping down my coffee, I wondered if my friend, Matt, 21, was serious.

‘You’re crazy!’ I said, finally.

‘At least think about it,’ he urged, sipping his cuppa.

Both fans of the outdoors, Matt wanted us to climb to Everest Base Camp together.

It was a challenge able-bodied people struggled to complete, so how did he think I could make it?

After a motorcycle accident when I was 17, I’d been left paraplegic and in 
a wheelchair.

‘There’s no way,’ I laughed. ‘It’s impossible.’

Still, I couldn’t shake the idea. Asking my family and friends, they encouraged me to give it a shot.

So, I flicked Matt a text. Okay, I’m in.

Getting together to plan, we discovered no-one had wheeled up Everest before.

Can I really do this? 
I wondered.

Scott was surprised by the terrain
Scott was determined to get to the top. (Photographer: Nigel Kippers)

There was only one way 
to find out. Starting training, it was clear we’d need to work as a team.

Tackling the tracks in the Blue Mountains, I hopped on Matt’s back when it got too rocky to stay in my chair.

Sometimes he held my legs while I wheelbarrowed around the gumtrees – walking on my hands.

Gloves protected my hands from sharp rocks, 
but it was exhausting.

These treks were supposed to boost my confidence, but instead they gave me doubts. But I didn’t want to back down.

Next, we scrambled up Mount Tomaree and clambered around Glenrock National Park.

Each climb got easier, giving me confidence as I checked off each peak.

Maybe I could do this.

Heading to a specialised gym, we got our bodies 
used to high altitudes.

Feeling like I was breathing through a straw, 
I worked on my upper body to help me wheelbarrow.

After a year of training, Matt and I were nervous but ready. In March, we flew to the Himalayas to start our 10-day trek to Everest as part of a group.

The terrain was 
a huge shock.

The paths were barely visible, with huge boulders forcing us to zigzag up the mountain.

With my shoulders aching and my hands red raw, I felt completely shattered.

Assessing the road ahead, the group leader told me the safest route.

Whether I wheeled, piggy backed or wheelbarrowed on my hands, each metre was harder than the last.

Matt was always by my side.
Matt was always by his side. (Photographer: Nigel Kippers)

Worse, by day five I had got a chest infection from trudging through the dirt.

I’m coughing up blood, I realised, horrified.

That night, I thought it was all over. But I kept quiet, not wanting to hold the rest of the group back.

The next morning, I put my wheelchair on like a backpack and climbed onto the back of a Sherpa.

Holding on tight we squeezed around boulders, climbing higher and higher.

Then altitude sickness struck. Stopping to vomit, 
I felt like someone had their hand over my mouth as 
I gasped for air.

That’s when another climber spotted me.

‘You’re incredible,’ she 
said as I crawled past.

Her motivating words meant so much.

As I went on, other mountaineers encouraged me and some even shed tears.

Each time, a smile stretched across my face. I’d never anticipated this reaction.

A week into the trek, I flinched as my tail bone hit the back of my seat.

Throwing my body around had fractured it.

Feeling ready to quit, I remembered the strangers who had egged me on.

I’ll keep going for them, I decided. So, I gripped the wheels and I pushed on.

Rolling over bumps, I suddenly came to a halt and dropped to the ground with a thump.

My front wheel had snapped off due to the minus 15 degrees cold.

My chest hurt from the dust and my back ached from my fracture.

‘I’m done,’ 
I mumbled, flopping on the rocks beside me.

We were two days from the base camp.

Wrapping rope around the wheel to hold it in place, Matt sat down next to me.

‘I don’t think anything else could go wrong,’ he laughed, trying to cheer me up.

Clenching my hands, my fingers felt frostbitten.

I can’t give up now, I thought. Matt and I had come so far.

Slipping on my sixth pair of gloves, I made my way through the last stretch.

Flipping on to my hands, Matt grabbed my legs as the base camp loomed in the distance.

The last 20 metres felt like the longest stretch of all.

Then, the crowd at the camp started cheering me on. An instant pick me up, the pain subsided and I started to beam with joy.

As my hand touched the rock at base camp, I was flooded with emotion.

Looking around at all my well wishers, the feeling was indescribable.

‘I can’t believe it!’ I cried, hugging Matt.

I climbed to Everest Base Camp, on my hands! 
I thought, unable to quite believe I had made it.

It was a huge team effort and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Matt and the Sherpas.

Back home again, my achievement still hasn’t fully sunk in.

Now, I want to encourage everyone to push your limits because you never know what you’re truly capable of.

As for me, I’ve got the climbing bug

Watch out Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is next!

Follow Scott’s adventures on his Instagram @wheelyfit

Related stories