US Marine veteran becomes first combat amputee to scale Everest

A former marine from Idaho reached the summit of Mount Everest Thursday, the first combat amputee to do so. He joins an inspiring group of people with disabilities to have conquered the iconic peak.

Tashi Sherpa/AP/File
In this Nov. 12, 2015 file photo, Mt. Everest is seen from the way to Kalapatthar in Nepal.

The first combat amputee ever to conquer Everest reached the mountain’s peak Thursday, his third attempt to do so since losing his leg in 2013.

Thomas Linville, a 30-year-old former US Marine from Idaho, undertook the expedition in partnership with The Heroes Project, an organization dedicated to working with veterans, soldiers, marines, and military communities.

Marine Staff Sgt. Linville joins a venerable list of people with disabilities who have overcome their physical challenges to peak this legendary mountain.

"I was looking for something to completely change myself... and really get rid of the demons that were created from war," Linville told CBS in April, as he headed to Tibet for this latest effort to climb the Earth's highest peak.

Linville, an explosive-ordnance disposal technician who was caught in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2011, made the climb as part of Operation Everest: 2016, a team brought together by The Heroes Project.

His first attempt, in 2014, was thwarted by an avalanche. An earthquake that ripped through the region and cancelled the following year’s climbing season put paid to his second effort.

The team is healthy and safe and currently descending the mountain,” reads a Facebook post on the non-profit’s page, announcing the successful culmination of the group’s efforts on this third occasion.

The select group of which Linville is now a member comprises a multitude of inspiring stories, with people from around the globe overcoming conditions and catastrophes, mastering limitations and undertaking adventures that only the most courageous could ever contemplate.

Everest was first bested by a disabled person in 1998. Tom Whittaker, a climber from York, England, who lost his foot after a car accident, also took three attempts to make the ascent. He was awarded an MBE, “Member of the Order of the British Empire,” for his efforts.

A New Zealander, Mark Inglis, was the first double amputee to scale the mountain, back in 2006. Arunima Sinha, an Indian who lost her leg after robbers threw her from a train, in 2011 became the first female amputee, and the first Indian amputee, to reach the top of Everest.

The list goes on, with each story as inspiring as the last, people displaying determination and resilience, mastering a mountain whose name few do not recognize.

Everybody’s got their own mountain to climb,” Linville told the Idaho Statesman in January. “It might not be a physical mountain, but it still has the same challenges.

“And if I can affect one person… If it just changes one person’s life, then all the misery, everything that has come with it, will be worth it.”

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