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regular-article-logo Saturday, 20 April 2024

Amputee war veteran skydives around Mount Everest

Legs lost but sky’s the limit

Vivek Chhetri Darjeeling Published 28.04.22, 12:55 AM
Hari Budha Magar (in black) skydiving around Mt Everest. Picture sourced from his Facebook page

Hari Budha Magar (in black) skydiving around Mt Everest. Picture sourced from his Facebook page

Hari Budha Magar may not have both legs. But he seems to have a pair of wings instead.

The 42-year-old British Gurkha veteran who had lost both his legs in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2011 skydived around Mt Everest on Tuesday and Wednesday to reportedly become the first double amputee to achieve this feat.

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Magar, a Nepali citizen settled in England, sounded ecstatic while speaking to The Telegraph.

“I am happy that I could do a tandem skydive around Mt Everest yesterday and today (Tuesday and Wednesday). Three other veterans who are differently abled also completed the tandem skydive. There had been no instances of such a feat around Mt Everest before. We have created records,” Magar told this correspondent over the phone from near the Everest base camp.

The team included veterans Dean Bousfield, John Cart and Martyn Compton, who are also differently abled after suffering injuries in action.

The team flew in a helicopter to a height of around 23,000 feet before jumping down, strapped to a companion, to land on Syangboche airport which is currently defunct.

“The freefall took us just 10 minutes. Jumping with an oxygen bottle and in windy conditions was difficult. I did stumble when I landed,” said Magar.

The jumps were facilitated by England-based Pilgrim Bandits, a military charity established in 2007 with the help of the UK Special Force members with the sole aim to help and inspire injured servicemen and women to live life to the fullest.

Sarah, the Duchess of York, was at the Heathrow airport in London to bid goodbye to the team on April 19.

Skydiving over the world’s highest mountain also sent a message to the Nepal government, which had banned differently abled people from climbing Mt Everest, in 2018.

That year, Magar had mortgaged his house to raise Rs 2.2 crore for the expedition. Magar and some others opposed Nepal’s decision with some moving the Supreme Court of Nepal to get the ban revoked. With the pandemic playing spoilsport, he couldn’t climb Everest till date.

Is Magar planning to climb Mt Everest? “Yes, of course. Next year,” he said.

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