Ever since Sir Edmund Hilary and his guide Tenzing became the first to officially scale Mount Everest in 1953, the mountain and its legend have proven an irresistible challenge to climbers from all over the world. Over the past 64 years, however, the number of people to actually succeed is actually quite small, with only a few thousand able to say they’ve reached the top. But not everyone who got up there was a champion climber – in fact, a lot of them were regular folks who set their eyes on their goal, and chased after it with passion in their hearts.
Here are some of the most inspiring stories from those that have succeeded.
BLOOD DISORDER DOESN’T STOP CLIMBER
Last week, Chris Bombadier became the first person with hemophilia, a disorder that prevents his blood from clotting in the event of even the smallest cut or wound, to scale the world’s tallest mountain. For Bombadier, the accomplishment was perhaps inevitable. In a 2015 interview, he was quoted assaying, “I don’t want to sit on the couch…I want to get out and enjoy as much as I can!”
Bombadier shared the feat on his Facebook page, Adventures of a Hemophiliac, where he raises funds and awareness for people with the same disorder.
In the post, Bombadier shared a photo of himself on Everest, along with a dedication:
For every child who has been told no due to their bleeding disorder.
For every patient wondering when his next dose of life-saving clotting factor will be.
For every family who has plans derailed by hemophilia.
For every parent who goes to bed in agony not understanding how to treat their child’s disorder.
For every hemophiliac athlete who waits in quiet hesitation out of fear of injury.
For all of us overcoming the impossible.
This mountain is for you.
MARRIAGE AT THE TOP
Last year, engaged couple Ashley Schmeider and James Sisson decided they wanted to do something incredible for their wedding. After considering a tropical destination, the couple, at the suggestion of their photographer, who would make the trip with them and document the whole thing, decided on scaling the world’s highest mountain and coming back with the pictures to prove it.
Determined to get married at the top of Mount Everest, Ashley and James travelled with adventure photographer Charleton Churchill, who documented the whole thing.
On March 16, 2017, folowing three weeks of trekking and a scare when James reacted badly to the thin oxygen at poorly to the lack of oxygen at 16,942 feet, the couple changed into their wedding attire and tied the know, surrounded by some of the most famous peaks in the world.
They didn’t quite reach the top due to James’ oxygen scare, but their nuptials, and the resulting images, made their climb in the name of love well worth the effort.
Dale Abenojar was the first Filipino to publicly announce his intention to climb the world’s highest mountain as far back as 1994. An AFP special forces graduate and a certified AFP military instructor Abenojar was a former member of the University of the Philippines Mountaineers.
Despite lacking financial or governmental support or high altitude mountaineering experience, Dale was determined to make his dream come true. It would take him 12 years of saving up, training, and acclimatization, but on May 20, 2006, Abenojar was able to make it to the top of Everest two days ahead of the fully sponsored Philippine National Team. Despite losing a toe to frostbite, Abenojar was able to fulfil his lifelong dream and become recognized as veteran Himalayan expedition chronicler Elizabeth Hawley’s “first Filipino” to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
In 2001, Eric Weihenmayer became the first and, thus far, only blind person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, with no less than Time Magazine featuring him on their cover. Having lost his sight due to a condition known as retinoschisis at the age of 13, Eric was forced to give up his his career as a varsity wrestling champion. Instead of staying home and letting his condition limit him, however, Eric took up rock climbing, discovering he had a natural dexterity for feeling for hand and foot holds.
Years later, the Everest ascent was but one of the climbs Eric completed as part of the so-called “Seven Summits”, the highest points on every continent on Earth. He completed all seven in 2008, making him one of only 150 mountaineers in the world to have accomplished the feat.
Today, Erik inspires others as a motivational speaker as part of his No Barriers advocacy, proving that no so-called “disability” can stand in the way when one has the passion to succeed.