Two major conquests have kicked off the Everest climbing season. Setting out before Sherpas finished securing the season's ropes to the summit, double amputee Xia Boyu of China reached Everest's peak Monday on his fifth attempt, reports Time. It was a climb 43 years in the making. The 69-year-old lost both his feet to frostbite when he lent his sleeping bag to a sick team member on his first attempt to scale the mountain in 1975, reports the BBC. Years later, both of his legs were amputated below the knee as he battled lymphoma. Still, Xia never gave up hope of setting foot on the highest point on Earth, and though an avalanche and earthquake put an end to planned climbs in 2014 and 2015, he made it to 300 feet from Everest's summit in 2016 before a blizzard forced his team to retreat.
"Climbing Mount Everest is my dream. I have to realize it," Xia said ahead of Monday's victory, which came after a recent ban on disabled climbers was struck down as discriminatory, per NPR. While Xia has been described as the second double amputee to scale Everest after New Zealand's Mark Inglis ascended from the Tibet side in 2006, Time reports Ecuador's Santiago Quintero also managed the feat from the Nepal side in 2013. Meanwhile, Steve Plain of Australia bested the 126-day record for the fastest climb of the highest mountains on seven continents. With his Everest finale Monday, Plain completed the feat in 117 days, despite having broken his neck in a surfing accident four years ago. "I was lying in hospital … and at that time set myself the goal," he says, per the BBC.