Mountaineer and Disability Campaigner
2070. Hari Budha Magar
Hari Budha Magar, from Canterbury, is a mountaineer and disability campaigner who recently became the first double above-knee amputee to summit Everest.
Hari, originally from Nepal, served across five continents with the Royal Gurkha Rifles in the British Army, and, in 2010, lost his legs in Afghanistan after stepping on an improvised explosive device. After struggling to come to terms with losing his legs, he wanted to make it his mission to inspire and change perceptions with regards to disability globally.
He has since completed multiple record-breaking mountaineering challenges, including Ben Nevis, Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro and Mount Toubkal, Chulu Far East and Mera Peak twice (the only amputee to do so) as well as becoming the first person to reach Everest basecamp with prosthetic legs in 2022. On 19 May this year, Hari realised his goal of climbing 8849m (29,029 ft) Mount Everest via the South Col route from Nepal. Hari followed the route that took him through the treacherous Khumbu Ice Fall to the Western Cwm, before tackling the Lhotse Face wall of ice, and then trekking across the Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur to the South Col and site of Camp IV. The final summit push saw Hari go via the Balcony, South Summit and the famous Hillary Step, which can take 12 – 16 hours for an average able bodied climber, and took Hari’s team 25 hours in gruelling weather conditions. Hari has so far raised over £11,000 for Armed Forces charities, including ‘Gurkha Welfare Trust’ but is aiming over the coming years to raise £884,900 (the height of Everest plus two 00’s) through the platform developed from the Everest Climb.
Through these challenges, Hari wants to raise awareness of disability and show that having a disability does not have to be limiting. Hari also speaks at organisations around the UK, Nepal and overseas; including schools, universities and army training centres events to share his experiences, including the impact on his mental health.
Hari was presented with his award by Veterans’ Minister Johnny Mercer at a Downing Street reception to mark Armed Forces Day.
(Hari is pictured with the the Prime Minister’s wife, Akshata Murty, Hari’s wife, and Veterans Minister, Johnny Mercer. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street)
In a personal letter to Hari, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“I was amazed and inspired to hear of your recent record-breaking climb of Mount Everest. It is a truly phenomenal achievement, 70 years on from the first ever ascent of Everest, for you to become the first double above-knee amputee to reach the summit.
“Since the terrible loss of your legs from the explosion in Afghanistan, you have shown extraordinary determination and spirit. You have not only been tackling mountains across the world, but also tackling perceptions of what people with disabilities are capable of accomplishing – in your words, you’ve been encouraging everyone to “climb their own mountain.”
“You are the true embodiment of service, firstly with your time with our incredible Armed Forces in the Royal Gurkha Rifles, and now with your fundraising campaigns to support your fellow veterans.”
“It is an honour to be recognised in the Prime Minister’s Points of Light programme.
Summiting Everest was not about records or awards, it was about trying to make a difference in the way society perceives people with disabilities and inspire all people to ‘climb their own mountain’. I believe through adaptation, dedication, determination and with teamwork we can achieve anything we put our minds to. It might be hard, take longer than you hoped and required help, innovation and change but it can be done.
Now that I have summited, my life’s work will continue to be about making awareness of disability, changing perceptions, and improving opportunity whether here in the UK or overseas.
This is a mountain I know I will never summit, but I will continue to climb it until I draw my last breadth. My time as Gurkha in the British Army instilled the importance of service, and my life will be about service, to my family, communities, and society.”