When we hear about someone who has lost both his feet to frostbite at the age of 23, what is our typical reaction? We feel pity for that person. We wonder why should a young person meet this fate. We think this person would have a very bleak future. He would somehow spend his life cursing his misfortune.
Not Mark Inglis. He didn’t give up. As a boy, he dreamt of standing on top of Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. And that’s what he did on 15th May 2006. He is an extraordinary man. For me, today was very inspiring & unforgettable day. I actually met Mark today, and attended a day long interactive event, “I Believe I can Fly” personally conducted by him!
The Program was organized by Random House Knowledge, a new division of Random House India, offering an exciting range of expert corporate training programmes and public speaker programmes.
The life of Mark Inglis is really inspiring. In his own words, Standing on the summit of Mount Everest has always been a boyhood dream, a dream that I thought I had lost in 1982 when as a Search and Rescue Mountaineer in New Zealand’s majestic Mount Cook National Park, I had a ‘hiccup’ in my climbing career, stuck in an ice cave dubbed ‘Middle Peak Hotel’ near the summit of Mount Cook for 14 days. As a result of this stay I lost both legs below the knees to frostbite.
He returned to Mt. Cook in 2002 and reached the summit successfully on 7th January of that year, after a previous attempt was thwarted by problems with his leg stumps. The summit assault in January 2002 was documented by the film No Mean Feat: The Mark Inglis Story. You can see the documentary here.
On 15 May 2006, after forty days of climbing, Inglis became the first ever double amputee to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. While acclimatizing at 6,400 meters (21,000 ft.), a fixed-line anchor failed, resulting in Inglis falling and breaking one of his carbon fiber prosthetic legs in half. But he didn’t give up his dream. It was temporarily repaired with duct tape, while a spare was brought up from base camp.
I remember reading the story in the newspaper in 2006. I was duly impressed and wondered what this man must have been made of. I had never imagined I would ever get to meet him in flesh and blood. So as soon as I came to know about this event in Mumbai, I immediately signed up.
And the event was everything I had expected. Mark started with a keynote “I believe I can fly”, in which Mark shared with the audience how he managed to fulfill his dream, in spite of all the odds. Then later, he conducted an interactive session in which he gave us flying lessons. He gave us tips on how to put the wings on our dreams.
In addition to all these great lessons, I now have a highly prized possession, which will keep me in touch with them. I have a copy of “Legs On Everest”, the book written by Mark. The copy was presented to me by Mark and is signed by him.