MARK INGLIS A KIWI GREAT – CONQUERING ADVERSITY – CONQUERING EVEREST

No legs, no worries. Where do you start when trying to chronicle the achievements of this extraordinary New Zealander because he has achieved in so many fields and a near death experienced changed the course of his life.

The 62 year old came to fame for the general public in New Zealand in 1982 when he and fellow mountaineer and friend, Philip Doole became trapped on Aoraki Mount Cook by an extreme blizzard.

Luckily, being experienced search and rescue mountaineers, they were prepared and dug a snow cave for shelter. However 13 days trapped and Mark admits they didn’t have a lot of time left by the time they were rescued. They both expected to lose digits (fingers or toes) to frostbite having been in those freezing conditions for so long, but what Mark certainly wasn’t expecting was to lose both his legs 14cm below the knees.

Mark Inglis after his Everst summit

“Most people who go for a trim go to the hairdressers. I go to the surgeon.”

Mark’s fierce determination to survive that life threatening ordeal on the mountain summed up the courage and determination of this amazing man who rather than let losing his legs inhibit his life, he confronted the challenges head on and turned them into a very much a positive. 

He’s achieved extraordinary things, including on May 15, 2006, after 47 days of climbing, becoming the first ever double amputee to reach the summit of the World’s highest mountain, Mount Everest.

That mission certainly didn’t go exactly to plan because during it Mark slipped and one of his prosthetic legs snapped in half. With true Kiwi number eight wire mentality, he got it back together with duct tape until a spare leg was brought up from base camp and he continued on to the summit. Mark actually rebuilt the broken prosthetic leg and still uses it today.

During that expedition, Mark again suffered frostbite and had to go in for another “trim” as he described it.

“Most people who go for a trim go to the hairdressers. I go to the surgeon.” Mark had several fingers partly amputated and his leg stumps had to have more taken off them, meaning another challenging period of recovery and rehabilitation which he said at times, just like when he lost his legs, was very challenging both mentally and physically.

It's A Long Way To The Top

Mark gained a degree in human bio chemistry and has conducted research into Leukaemia, he is a world class wine maker and was once senior wine maker at the former Montana Wines in Blenheim.

Undeterred by his lack of normal legs, Mark took up cycling in Blenheim and just like pretty much everything else he’s had a crack at at, he excelled. In 2000 at the Sydney Paralympics, he had the ride of his life, winning a silver medal in the kilometre time trial, missing out on gold by just a fraction of a second. He’s competed in disabled alpine skiing, winning gold and silver medals in international competition.

“Attitude determines your altitude”.

HARD YARDS Mark in full training mode preparing for the Sydney Paralympics
Silver Lining -Champion cyclist Mark Inglis with his Paralympic Games cycling silver medal

Mark founded the New Zealand based charitable Trust Limbs 4 All and in 2002 he was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to people with disabilities.

Born in Geraldine in 1959, the 62 year-old now lives in Hanmer Springs. His life is full on as an international motivational speaker, trekking guide, doing charity work in Cambodia and being in charge of looking after the well being of the many mountain bike tracks in the Hanmer region.

His attitude to climbing sums top his positive attitude to life. “Attitude determines your altitude”.

"My path is sharing those things that I treasure; the mountains, climbing, cycling – experiences and places ".- Mark Inglis

“People would see this old double amputee and feel that I could never do anything again. The biggest challenge for me was to ignore such thoughts and follow my dreams"

Mark is a truly inspiring man, very humble who I had the privilege of knowing back in Blenheim and reporting on his amazing exploits. He is married to Anne now for 40 years, they have three adult kids, Jeremy, Lucy and Amanda.

Mark and Anne - 40 years of marital bliss

I often use Mark’s exploits to encourage anyone who doubts they can achieve something they are striving for. As I say, well I know a man, a double amputee who climbed Mount Everest.

I caught up with Mark last week and we discussed his life achievements. He talks about that time trapped on Aoraki Mount Cook, winning silver at the Sydney Paralympics, climbing Mount Everest and his life in general. It is an interview very much worth listening watching and listening to.

Interview & Words by John Alexander | Header Image taken by Tony Stretch. Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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