It’s a feat most able-bodied people would struggle to achieve – scaling one of the highest peaks on earth but Spencer West managed it using just his hands.
The 31-year-old, from Toronto, Canada – who lost his legs when he was just five years old – reached the summit of the 19,341ft high Mt. Kilimanjaro on Tuesday after a slow, gruelling and awe-inspiring trek.
Mr West was born with sacral agenesis, a genetic disorder that left his lower spine poorly developed and his legs permanently crossed.
He had his legs removed below the knees at the age of three and, two-years-later, had them amputated to below his pelvis.
Medical experts told the courageous Canadian he would never be a functioning member of society but he has continued to defy doctors his entire life.
He trained for a year to scale the tallest peak in Africa without legs and set off on June 12 with best friends David Johnson and Alex Meers.
The trek to the top took seven days, hiking through Tanzania’s jungles, snowfields and deserts – and Mr West was forced to make 80 per cent of the journey on his hands, only hopping in a custom-made wheelchair when the terrain allowed.
The trio made it to the final approach on Sunday and rose the following morning for the ascent to Uhuru Peak.
They reached the top at 11.15am after an exhausting seven hour hike.
Only 50 per cent of people who attempt to scale the mountain make it to the top – and Mr West described the moment he reached the summit as ‘incredible’.
He said: ‘The summit sign seemed almost like a mirage.’
‘We looked around and realised that, after seven grueling days of relentless climbing, after 20,000 feet of our blood, sweat, tears and vomit we had actually made it.
‘The bleeding fingers and blisters were all worth it.’
He added: ‘I set out to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro not only to redefine what’s possible for me, but to inspire others to overcome obstacles and challenges of their own, and to give back to communities, that need our help.
‘Reaching the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro was the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have ever done, but in doing so, it reinforced the powerful message behind believing in yourself, and believing in others.
‘So many people made this journey possible for me and I am so humbled by everyone’s support.’