Thursday, 21 June 2012

Amputee scales Mount Kilimanjaro

The human spirit can't be stopped.
A man who lost both his legs as a child has become the first to scale Mount Kilimanjaro using his hands.Spencer West, 31, from Toronto, Canada, reached the summit of the 19,341ft mountain on Tuesday after trekking for seven days. He climbed most of the journey on his hands, spending only 20 per cent of the trek in a custom-made wheelchair when the terrain wasn’t as steep or rocky.Mr West had his legs amputated below the knee when he was three-years old due to a genetic disorder – sacral agenesis. When he was five he had to have the rest of his legs removed below the pelvis.The rare congenital disorder meant the development of his lower spine was impeded, leaving his legs permanently crossed. Doctors told him he would never be a normal functioning member of society – a judgment Mr West has challenged his entire life.

Mr West, who spent one year training for the expedition, scaled Africa’s highest peak with his two best friends David Johnson and Alex Meers. The trio began their hike on June 12, navigating through jungle, snowfield and deserts, but finally making it to the top at 11.15am on June 20.Only 50 per cent of those who attempt the mountain usually make it to the top.“The summit sign seemed almost like a mirage,” Mr West said.“We looked around and realised that, after seven gruelling days of relentless climbing, after 20,000 feet of our blood, sweat, tears and vomit we had actually made it.“The bleeding fingers and blisters were all worth it.”He added: “Reaching the peak of Mt Kilimanjaro was the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have ever done, but in doing so, it reinforced the powerful message behind believing in yourself, and believing in others.”Mr West’s trek to the top of Kilimanjaro raised more than £300,000 for charity Free The Children.


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