Chinese amputee who conquered Mount Qomolangma at age 69 gets documentary film
Published: Nov 25, 2021 02:51 AM
Xia Boyu Photo: VCG

Xia Boyu Photo: VCG

Mount Qomolangma, commonly known in the West as Mount Everest, is the ultimate destination for many climbers around the world like Xia Boyu, who lost both legs after giving his sleeping bag to a teammate while climbing the mountain.

After 43 years and four failed attempts, Xia successfully climbed to the top of Mount Qomolangma on May 14, 2018, using two artificial limbs becoming the first Chinese without legs to reach the summit and the world's oldest double amputee to climb to the top.

The documentary film To the Summit, depicting Xia's journey to climb the 8,848-meter-high mountain at the age of 69, is set to hit cinemas in the Chinese mainland on December 3.

The movie was directed by Ye Junce and produced by Wu Jing, the star of the Wolf Warrior military action films and Guo Fan who directed The Wandering Earth

During the pre-screening of the movie held in Shanghai on Sunday, Xia shared his experience conquering the Qomolangma with the audience, Chinese media outlet The Paper reported.

Xia did not avoid talking about the tragedy of losing his lower legs during his first attempt to climb the Qomolangma in 1975. Xia gave his sleeping bag to one of his teammates thinking he could withstand the cold but in the end the extreme conditions on the mountain took away his legs from the knees down. 

Xia was so focused on the climb that he did not notice the pain in his legs when it started. By the time he realized what was happening, it was too late.

In the film, Xia talks about how he felt when he lost his legs. He was confused and depressed but his passion for life was rekindled when he met a foreign medical expert who told him that prosthetic limbs could help him walk, run and even climb again.

The movie documents Xia's numerous attempts to climb the mountain and his brushes with success. Once he was only 94 meters far away from the top but as weather conditions were incredibly poor, Xia chose to turn back.

"Artificial limbs cannot tell me whether the land is flat or uneven, so I must put my eyes on the ground all the time when I climb. And I need to keep steady and try to minimize wobbling, because the more I wobble, the more traction it put on my legs and the more they hurt and blister," Xia said at the premiere.

He noted that after losing his legs, he did not want to lose to anyone with a competitive spirit. He wanted to fight against his fate and challenge himself to continue to climb mountains.

This spirit can also be seen in other Chinese amputees even though they work in different industries and span different generations.

Niu Yu, 24, also refused to yield to fate and became a shining star at the Shanghai Fashion Week in October with her confident and relaxed attitude while striding down the runway sporting a prosthetic leg.

"There were 85 million documented disabled people in China in 2020 and we have no idea how large the number is for those who are undocumented. However, it is rare for disabled people to be seen on the streets. I always thought about the reasons for this and then I realized it is because they hide themselves," Niu said.

Niu told the Global Times that she realized her inspiring stories can encourage more disabled people to step out into the open and be embraced by society.