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Kyle (crawling) and team / photo: video capture

First quadruple amputee to climb Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua

Kyle Maynard is a man who doesn’t know the word ‘impossible’. He was born with congenital amputation, which means his arms end at the elbows, his legs end at the knees. Nevertheless, he ended up climbing mountains like Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua in South America.

Great Big Story posted Kyle’s story on its Facebook on 16 April 2017.

If asked, he would say that he has an extremely hard time saying what it is exactly that he does. He said he has been an athlete his entire life, football, wrestling, weight-lifting and Brazilian jiu jitsu is what took his interest and time notwithstanding his condition.

And now, most recently, he took on climbing some of the highest mountains in the world.

Kyle said, “When I first started climbing I was so bad.. I was so terrible, so slow”.

“I’d tear my skin up all the time. And I was like, how the heck are we going to go and do Mount Kilimanjaro?”

Three words, “I don’t know.”

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“Those three words, three of the most important words in my life,” he said. Kyle believes that all discoveries happen from these three words – I don’t know.

He tried to explain his view, which must be different from most of us, but he said, “You know, I think some people, they look at me and maybe even feel sorry for me. But really, truthfully, my life doesn’t look a whole lot different than yours”.

“You know, I type on the computer the same way, I use my phone just like anybody else!”

What made him to want to climb one of the highest mountain in the world?

Kyle said his first significance experience with climbing was in a CrossFit competition in 2010. The first work out was a thousand meter row on a rowing machine and a sprint up Stone Mountain.

Everybody else did it in maybe 25 minutes. It took him an hour and 46 minutes. He tore all the skin up on his arms but he got to the top, and he said, “I was like, wow, this is breathtakingly beautiful”.

That night, he told his friend, “I want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro”.

“I don’t know if I can but I do know that I want to try to figure it out,” he determined.

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He went and found a way and get up there.

There were a ton of challenges with getting into climbing and the biggest one is the gear. He started with bath towels duct taped to his arms and his feet, because of course,he couldn’t go to the store and buy a typical pair of shoes. He had to come up with unique solution.

“Now to climb, I use a carbon fiber special custom shoe,” Kyle said, “I used those to bear crawl up Kilimanjaro.”

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Then Kyle and his team took on climbing Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America.

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“I felt my body was in full shut-down mode. Man, it was brutal but it was breathtakingly beautiful,” is what he said about the experience.

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“At the top of that mountain, you know, you can almost make out and see the curvature of the earth.”

“I mean it was just a moment I’ll never forget.”

Kyle said the reasons he climbs aren’t that different from other people. He said, “95 percent it does suck. I am staring at the dirt, I am not even able to talk to my friends and see the beautiful views unless I stop and sit down and look.”

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“But that five percent that doesn’t suck, it’s amazing! Getting to a place that there’s no way my wheelchair could have brought me there, that’s what I love,” he claimed.