A HERO veteran who lost both legs exactly 13 years ago in Afghanistan has taken the first steps of his epic expedition to conquer Mount Everest.
On April 17 2010, Hari Budha Magar, a former Corporal in legendary British Army Regiment The Gurkhas, was terribly injured in an IED explosion which left him suicidal and unable to even climb into a wheelchair.
Incredibly, he arrived at base camp 13 years to the day from the explosion that changed his life – and today he set off on his historic and herculean bid to reach the summit, which is expected to take six days.
It's an almost superhuman effort as Hari, who has met King Charles eight times as he is the Colonel in Chief of The Royal Gurkha Rifles, will actually conquer the equivalent of THREE Mount Everests on specially adapted short legs called ‘stubbies’.
Every one of the 8,846.86 metres will take him triple the effort of an average mountaineer.
He's carrying a bottle of Gurkhas And Guns Whisky to toast King Charles and Queen Camilla, a biodegradable golf ball which he will tee off with from the top of the world in honour of a dead friend and he'll leave prayer flags at the summit as well as calling his wife from a satellite phone to say: “We did it!”
ON HARI MAGAR
Hero veteran in bid to become first double leg amputee to conquer Everest
I lost legs serving UK – I’m climbing Everest & will reach top on a historic day
It is also 70 years since Everest was conquered for the first time on the day of Queen Elizabeth's Coronation.
As he trekked towards the treacherous Khumbu Icefall glacier – a wall of ice which will be one of his first major obstacles, Hari told The Sun: “I'm ready. I'm doing this for King, Country and to show that anyone can conquer their dreams and climb their own mountains.
“When we reach the top I'm going to say: “Yes, we did it”.
“ It will take everything I have got and I will give everything I can to make this happen.
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“We are carrying a bottle of Gurkhas and Guns Whisky for wherever we are, we will give a toast: 'Long live the King'.”
Hari said he also hopes to meet King Charles in the future in order to give him a bottle of the whisky as a thank you for the Highgrove Whisky he sent to him at the darkest time of his life.
He added: “When I got injured King Charles sent me a personal letter and bottle of whisky from Highgrove with a message saying 'every possible healing thought'. It meant a great deal to me. He knows about me climbing Everest.
“I think it will be nice to meet him and say: “I toasted you on Mount Everest. I'll maybe take him some whisky too.”
Father of three Hari, 43, from Canterbury, has already made history because as part of his acclimatisation process he has become the first double above knee amputee to reach the top of 6,476 metre Mera Peak TWICE.
If he makes the Himalayan summit he will clinch two world records.
Every step of the way he’ll carry a photo of his wife Urmila, 40, their daughter Samjhana, 26, and sons 15-year-old Brian and 10-year-old Ubran next to his heart.
And he’ll be spurred on by thousands of messages from schoolchildren, veterans and people around the world – and Celine Dion's hit song My Heart Will Go On, as the ballad lifted his soul when he thought his life was over after he was blown up.
Hari said: “I'm going to hum Celine Dion’s song in my head. I have changed the words to 'My Life Will Go On', as whatever happens in life, life still goes on. It's a very inspirational song for me.
“Thirteen years ago I thought that my life was done. I thought I'd be in a wheelchair and need a carer for the rest of my life.
“I was suicidal. Who could have thought I would be in Base Camp, climbing Mount Everest or so many mountains that I have climbed before I got to this point?
“We go through those dark times, there's many people who helped me to get through this, my family, friends, colleagues, comrades, my community and the charities that I'm raising funds for now.
"I hope I will be able to raise the equivalent in money of the height of Everest plus two zeros on the end to give something back.
“The team is in high spirits."
Hari is asking The Sun's army of readers to get behind his effort to raise £884,900 – representing each of the metres he has to climb plus two zeros – to raise money for veteran organisations Team Forces, The Gurkha Welfare Trust, Pilgrim Bandits, Blesma and On Course Foundation, who help him and other wounded veteran heroes to live again.
He said: “My team and I are creating history for human endeavour. I know the country is behind me. I really appreciate the support from Sun readers and people from all over the world.
“Every pound will make a difference to the amazing charities and organisations I’m supporting. They help people to live again who have served our country.”
Each step he takes will follow the path of legends Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent which took place exactly 70 years ago during Queen Elizabeth's Coronation.
It’s an extraordinary coincidence as he’d originally intended to climb in 2018 but was banned by Nepalese authorities and he had to go to court to win the right to overturn it.
Hari said: “I can't compare with those legends. But I feel their spirit and feel privileged to do something on the 70th anniversary. If they hadn't I wouldn't have even dared to dream of climbing Everest.
“I never planned this would happen on the anniversary of them making the summit so I'm really, happy.”
When he gets to the top he has four tasks he will undertake.
He said: “That moment will be absolutely amazing and I hope the weather will be good.
“I want to look from the top of the world 360 degrees around and see all the mountains that I can see from there.
“I'm going to call my wife and tell her: 'We did it'. I will be carrying some small prayer flags in my pocket and I'll put them on the summit.
“I'm also going to tee off using a biodegradable golf ball off the top of the peak.
“I'll be using the golf club of a friend Ben Simpson of the On Course Foundation who was very close to me and he passed away from cancer a year ago.
“He helped me get my confidence back through playing golf. His dad John, the head of charity is my friend and he very kindly adapted Ben's golf club, he made it short, so I can hit it.
“It's my way of honouring Ben and his work and also a mark of respect to all those who lost their confidence and got it back. I'll say: 'This is for you'."
He revealed his belief that anyone can achieve their dreams will drive him forward as he sets off in the dark, when the ice is at its firmest.
Hari said: “It is so important for me to summit Everest to prove that nothing is impossible.
“It's also to create history and it would be great for human endeavour and also this will inspire many people around the world to climb their own mountains and achieve their own dreams.
“Last week we were able to summit Mera Peak which I have now done twice, and no other double amputee has climbed that mountain so far. So that has given me lots of confidence. Now I can't wait to get up Everest.”
He acknowledged the significant risks, adding: “I'm ready for anything. Even if it throws me at death I'm ready.
“I'm here to get the job done. I'm worried about a couple of things – one is that some of the climbing team might get injured or die or I might die.
“One thing I really worry about is my family without me and what the effect will be on my family if I die on the mountain.”
But he also acknowledged his date with destiny – and hopes it will change perceptions of disability across the world.
“This mountain is not just for me, it's for everyone with disabilities, for veterans, for The King, for Nepal and the Nepalese people, for the UK and its people,” he said.
“I am doing this to raise awareness and change perceptions of people with disabilities, making history and inspiring other people to climb their own mountains.”
Hari has joined his expedition team for a traditional Puja (ceremony of prayer) for a successful climb and safe return.
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Even climbing gear is blessed for the journey ahead.
Hari said: “We’re all feeling strong and are excited to head up the mountain. We can achieve anything if we have a positive attitude and the right mindset and adapt our life.”
HARI is climbing Mount Everest to raise funds that are desperately needed for five veterans charities – Team Forces, The Gurkha WelfareTrust, Pilgrim Bandits, Blesma and On Course Foundation.
He would love Sun readers to help him raise £884,900 – the height of Everest plus two zeroes.
Hari’s Crowdfunder appeal is at: https://crowdfunder.co.uk/p/harieverestappeal
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