Sudarshan Gautam gained worldwide fame as the first armless mountaineer to summit the world’s highest peak Mount Everest without the use of prosthetics. He achieved this extraordinary feat on May 20, 2013 and has been a great source of inspiration to all disabled people ever since.
The Horrific Accident
Born as a normal child in the Ramechhap district of Nepal, Sudarshan excelled at sports in school and aspired to become a pilot or politician. However, during a vacation in Kathmandu when he was 16, he faced a tragic accident. He was flying a kite on a rooftop which got entangled in the overhead electric wires. He tried to use an iron rod to free the kite, being unaware of the disastrous consequences. A single naive act turned his whole life upside down. Both his hands suffered severe burns and had to be amputated.
Getting Back to Normalcy
During the following weeks and months all of Sudarshan’s friends deserted him instead of helping him cope with the darkest phase of his life. His parents though were very supportive and helped him in adjusting to the new situation. He slowly began training himself to do his everyday chores, like brushing teeth, taking showers, shaving, cooking and eating, with the use of his legs.
Sudarshan soon regained his positive outlook towards life and continued his education graduating with a degree in commerce. He learned to drive a car and demonstrated his skill to around 100,000 spectators. The event was widely covered in the Nepal media and made him very popular.
Achieving the Impossible
After settling down in Calgary, Canada, he wanted to realize his dream of setting foot atop Mount Everest without using any prosthetics, something which no one had done before. As part of the rigorous training for this herculean task, he climbed the peaks of Mount Yala and Mount Ramdung, and finally experienced the joy of reaching the top of the world when he scaled Mount Everest.
Armed with a belief that disability is not an inability, Sudarshan Gautam visited over 40 countries as a motivational keynote speaker. He has also acted in a couple of popular Nepali movies. He was honored with numerous awards, the most recent one being the South Asian Canadian Trailblazers award in May 2017.
His next goal is to climb Mount Logan, the highest mountain in Canada during May-June 2018 and promote it as an attractive destination for mountaineers. He plans to use the opportunity to raise funds for the handicapped in Canada.