- Categorized in: 7 Summits Blog
Turn the world to your advantage, says mountaineer
BANGALORE: He's risen from the dead, and he knows how excruciating it can be. Alive, and maybe not kicking, 51-year-old Mark Inglis' story of fortitude is unique and now a textbook for business leaders. A double amputee who scaled Mount Everest, he is a well-known mountaineer and Olympian, with a motivating idea for others: "Challenge yourself to think". And manoeuvre thinking in a way that you reach the summit and come back safe.
Walking around in three-quarter pants revealing his prosthetic legs, Mark says these limbs are far from being comfortable but he "has gotten used to them", just like a person living with only one pair of uncomfortable shoes. He always remembers that after all, he scaled the Everest in them.
Mark was in Bangalore on Tuesday on a short visit to give some senior business executives a peek into how it feels to struggle in biting cold, dangerous terrain and the task of scaling the Everest with no legs. He also gave them insights into team building and leadership.
Mark lost both his legs in 1982, after his near-death experience atop Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest peak. Caught in an avalanche, he and his teammate spent a fortnight in an ice cave, where he got frostbite. "I went there as a man weighing 79kg, but came back as a man of 39kg. On Christmas eve of 1982, both my legs were chopped off. From a man scaling mountains, I was not even strong enough to go to the toilet. But I had to challenge myself and think about the advantage. The opportunity was that I would be a mountaineer on prosthetics, who would never get a frostbite on his legs again," he says.
Narrating his story, Mark intersperses them with insights he wants people to understand. A man who has worn different hats, Mark tried his hand at wine-making and getting a first-class honours degree in leukaemia research, till he decided to go back to his first love, the mountains.
PEAKS ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE
Mark calls it the `Death Zone'. Scaling Mt Everest is not a feat anyone can achieve. Around 200 people turn up at the base of Mt Everest, but only 2 to 3% make it to the summit. Many die on the way.
On an average, it takes about 60 days to acclimatize oneself and climb the peak. "It's a very, very tough place. If someone flies you out and drops you on the summit, you won't survive for more than three minutes. The air is so thin. I have seen many fall dead while climbing. It could be a stroke or an edema," describes Mark.
He recollects that 1996 was one of the worst years for Mt Everest climbers, as 11 people died due to a huge storm at the summit. The next worst year was when Mark scaled the peak with his prosthetics in 2006.
During the same expedition, Mark and a party of 18 other climbers came upon British climber David Sharp. He was in a bad condition, waiting for help from others to get back. Mark has been criticised by various legendary climbers for not trying to revive David, and instead pushing his way to the peak. "We couldn't rescue David, nor could the Sherpas. David couldn't walk. No one in history has been rescued from that zone. But here, the team plays a crucial role. You need a team to turn you around before you die," he says.
Describing David Sharp's death, about 100 metres away from the summit, says there are two crucial decisions at this point. One is to understand if you are tough enough to take the step, the other is if you should take the step at all.
Mark now calls himself a motivation guru, meets business heads across the world but strives to give quality prosthetics to the disabled through his not-for-profit campaign called `Limbs4all'. He signs off with T S Eliot's `Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go...'
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