Chinese man with Lou Gehrig’s disease climbs 1,600m to summit of his second Great Mountain
Zhang Wei, who lifted himself up 4,000 stone steps, says he is now looking forward to ‘walking’ the Great Wall of China
A Chinese man who suffers from a motor neurone disease found the perfect way to celebrate his 29th birthday: climbing 1,600 metres (5,250 feet) to the top of one of the Five Great Mountains of China, according to a local media report.
Zhang Wei, who was diagnosed with the degenerative condition amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, when he was just 12, set off for the summit of Mount Hua in northwest China’s Shaanxi province at 8am on July 15, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Monday. He arrived 21 hours later.
While the climb is made via a stone staircase, Zhang’s achievement is no less remarkable, considering he has no use of his legs and scaled the 4,000 steps by lifting himself up on his hands and shuffling his body upwards and forwards.
“The steps became steeper as I climbed higher and sometimes [the rise] was as long as my legs,” he was quoted as saying.
After about eight hours of climbing, Zhang said his carer advised him to stop, but he was having none of it.
“[Completing] the challenge is not just my personal dream, it provides courage for all people with disabilities to pursue their dreams,” he said.
After working his way through three pairs of gloves and a pair of shoes, Zhang reached the South Peak at about 5am on July 16, just in time to greet the dawn through tear-filled eyes.
“Although the skin on my hands and arms was torn, and I was so exhausted, at the moment I reached the peak all of the tiredness suddenly disappeared,” he said.
Born in Heze, east China’s Shandong province, Zhang said that although he was diagnosed with the motor neurone disease at the age of 12, it was not until he was about 18 that, “I felt like I lost all my muscles”.
At his last medical check in September, Zhang’s doctors told him his health was deteriorating rapidly and that he might not see his 30th birthday, the report said.
“Doctors said it’s a miracle that I have lived until today, and I believe the miracle will continue,” he said.
He certainly has no plans to cut back on his lofty challenges. Just a month before scaling Mount Hua, Zhang spent 12 hours climbing Mount Tai – another of the Great Mountains – and said he was now planning to reach the summit of the other three sometime next year, just as soon as he has completed “walking” the length of the Great Wall of China.