Inspirational Hampshire amputee summits Ethiopia's highest mountain

Inspirational Hampshire amputee summits Ethiopia's highest mountain

Published by Mike Draper at 10:55am 8th November 2019. (Updated at 11:02am 8th November 2019)

2 minute read

Alex Lewis from Stockbridge has climbed the 4.500 metre Ras Dashen, with the help of a specially designed buggy.

Alex lost all of his limbs, and suffered facial disfigurement, after contracting Strep A Toxic Shock Syndrome in 2013.

At the time, his doctors gave him a 3% chance of survival.

Fast forward six years, and Alex has kayaked around the Southern tip of Greenland and along Southern Africa’s Orange river, has skydived and gone cage diving with great white sharks.

But his most recent expedition would be his most challenging yet.

Summit of Ras Dashen
Summit of Ras Dashen

Getting to the top of Ethiopia’s highest mountain would require a specially designed buggy, or ‘handcycle’.

The solar powered vehicle was designed by students at the University of Southampton, as part of the ‘Wild Wheelchairs Project’.

Alex Lewis HandCycle
Alex used the handcycle to get himself up and down the mountain

The project aims to raise money to build a wheelchair factory in Ethiopia, where disability is treated as taboo by some members of society.

Alex was not alone in this feat. He was accompanied by Ethiopian basketball star – and double amputee - Emebet Ale Dires, along with a team of supporters.

At times, they had to carry Alex across parts of the mountain, who had to crawl a rocky last twenty meters to the summit. 

Now returned to the UK, Alex has appeared on several television broadcasts and is seen as a public inspiration by many.

For him, however, the mission had a personal edge as well – to prove to young son Sam that disability will never stand in his way, and to demonstrate the importance of never giving up.

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