Legless Man Scales Kilimanjaro on Hands
Spencer West hopes to use climb to raise money for Kenyan water initiative
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2012 9:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro's 19,300 feet is tough enough for most people. But Spencer West just spent seven days climbing to the top on his hands, reports ABC News. West, who lost both his legs when he was 5 years old, estimates he did 80% of the climb on his own, taking about 20,000 "steps" to make it to the top. (He used a wheelchair on easier terrain, and was carried over the few patches that were too tough, notes the Toronto Star.) "It's literally climbing the largest mountain on Africa on your hands," he said. "I don't know if it can get much more challenging than that."

Born with a genetic disorder called sacral agenesis, doctors amputated West's legs below the pelvis when he was 5, but he credits his parents with treating him normally and giving him the confidence to tackle any obstacle. West spent a year training for the climb, made to raise $750,000 for Free the Children's clean water program in Kenya (he's raised $500,000 so far). "We all have the ability to redefine what is possible—whether you're missing your legs or not," said West. "Everyone has challenges and challenges can be overcome."