One-legged man conquers Mt. Everest

KATHMANDU -- Four years after he lost part of a leg in a traffic accident, Nawang Sherpa, 30, was standing on the top of the world. With a prosthetic left leg from the knee down, has conquered Mount Everest.

He said that scaling the highest peak, a feat that has daunted so many experienced climbers before him, was "not so difficult." When he reached the 8,848-meter summit on May 16, Sherpa said he thought back to July 2000 when he was knocked down by a public bus.

Sherpa, who brought bottled oxygen, made it to the top of Everest in 11 hours and 15 minutes by climbing up the South Col route. It was faster -- but more demanding -- on the way down. "It took me six hours to descend to the South Col from the summit and I found climbing down with an artificial leg was difficult," he said.

Sherpa, as befits his name, is an experienced climber. The Sherpas, a mountain people, have long been the forgotten guides who assist Himalayan climbs -- the most famous being Tenzing Norgay, who with Edmund Hillary first conquered Everest on May 29, 1953. The first physically challenged person to conquer Mount Everest was Tom Whittaker, an American whose foot had been amputated, in May 1998.

Meanwhile, Bulgarian mountaineer Christo Christov was found dead Monday 168 meters below the summit of Mount Everest, which he had reached four days ago. Christov, 26, had reached the Everest summit by the north face, without using an oxygen mask, two Sherpa guides said. He had been missing since Thursday, when his expedition started down due to bad weather. Saturday,

May 29, 2004
8:20:11 PM