James Rose, a British Army Veteran who lost his legs in an accident in Afghanistan in 2009, became the first double above-knee amputee to make it to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain. Kilimanjaro, completely unaided.
Deployed to the Helmand Province with the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, he accidentally stepped on the pressure plate of an improvised explosive device (IED). Rose lost both his legs in the incident which also broke his pelvis and tail bone and his ability to walk.
Rose, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression, struggled to adjust to his new reality. With the help of his family, he managed to enjoy his life again. He started training, lost the excess weight gained from inactivity and worked on regaining his fitness.
Rose competed at the Sydney Invictus Games in 2018, competing in the Wheelchair Basketball and Sitting Volleyball events, earning silver and bronze medals for his efforts. He also became friends with Darren Young, another athlete at the games.
Back home, Rose came up with the idea while watching Extreme Everest with Ant Middlelton and posted on social media that he wanted to climb Everest in spite of not having legs. A teammate from the games suggested climbing Kilimanjaro instead.
“I agreed straight away and the training began in January 2019 by climbing mountains in the Lake District such as Helvellyn and the Yorkshire Moors near to where I live,” he said.
Rose continued: “It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, physically and mentally.
“I stopped twice on summit day and decided I wasn’t not going anymore.
“After a long talk with my inner self and help from my team I got up and got moving and 14-plus hours later we reached the top.”
“I sat there for a bit and started crying with joy.
“It was amazing but also very taxing on my body. If I had never completed it I would have been in a dark hole again.”
Instead of the dark hole, Rose, Young and the rest of the team initiated a crowdfunding effort on the JustGiving website. The money will be donated to charities that help veterans and provide mental health care.
Rose added: “I suffer with my mental health, and I wanted to show people in a similar situation that with the right mindset you can achieve anything you want to achieve.”
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