Australian Scott Doolan just became the first paraplegic in history to reach Everest Base Camp with minimal assistance. And he did it all to raise awareness for mental health issues, a struggle he is all too familiar with.
Reaching the foot of Mount Everest after a 65-kilometer trek, Doolan was welcomed by a crowd of 20 people cheering him on.
My first thought was no way, impossible, I can’t do that. However, after thinking about it […] I thought why not, what better way to challenge myself and influence others than to climb the biggest mountain in the world?
— Scott Doolan
Climbing in a wheelchair
Trekking with a specially-designed wheelchair and often climbing on his hands in a wheelbarrow position while his traveling partners held his legs, Doolan received heartwarming words of encouragement from several climbers he encountered during his ascent.
On a few occasions, when the climb was too steep, he resorted to piggyback rides. Completing the journey took all the strength Doolan had, both physical and mental. At one point, his wheelchair broke and a quick fix had to be improvised. By the time he reached base camp, Doolan had also suffered a stress fracture in his tailbone, but not even that slowed him down.
Uncovering his strength
An active teen in love with sports, Doolan lost use of his legs at 17 after a serious motorcycle accident damaged his spinal cord. He became depressed during the years after his accident, but discovering fitness in his twenties brought him a renewed joy and appreciation for life.
Last year, Doolan partnered up with a lifestyle company for the biggest challenge of his life: reaching the foot of the world’s highest mountain with minimal assistance.
He spent eight months training for the adventure, climbing mountains and doing daily cardiovascular and strength-training with oxygen-restricting masks to prepare for his high-altitude expedition.
Reaching Everest Base Camp
On March 14, Doolan and his team of a dozen people set out to climb to Everest Base Camp, completing the grueling journey in only 10 days. Keep in mind most climbers make the journey in 9 to 12 days.
VIDEO: A wheelchair-bound Australian who reached Everest base camp under his own power says he was “humbled” to be the first paraplegic to make the gruelling journey mostly unaided pic.twitter.com/5ddk2qcwuO
— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 27, 2018
No matter how difficult his training was, Doolan found the climb far more challenging than he ever imagined or expected. But the climb and his history-making achievement were not the only things he took away from the journey.
He showed himself and the world the power of tackling adversity head on and coming out victorious. His trip to Nepal also made him more grateful for the life he has in Australia.
One of the biggest things I’ll take away from this adventure is knowing how good we have it in Australia. Meeting some of the Himalayan children and seeing how happy they are with the limited resources they have, has certainly shined a light on the little things in life that I would normally have taken for granted.
Despite his momentous achievements, Doolan is far from taking a step back and enjoying the fruits of his labor. In fact, the 28-year-old is already searching for his next adventure, according to France 24.
One of those adventures might very well be swimming for Australia during the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Here’s to never giving up!
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