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Blind Conqueror of Everest Has Bigger Plans

China's Zhang Hong is going for the 'grand slam' of climbing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 31, 2021 8:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Chinese climber who became the first blind Asian to scale Mount Everest says he aims to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents and then travel to the North and South Poles, per the AP. Zhang Hong, 44, is also the third blind climber internationally to reach the world's highest peak. Following his guides and Sherpas, he reached the summit on May 24 and returned safely to Kathmandu. He said on Monday that he was inspired by a blind American climber, Eric Weihenmayer, who scaled Everest in 2001. A climber from Austria was the second blind person to reach the peak. “Personally I plan to try the ‘grand slam’ in the next few years—the seven summits around the world on seven continents and the North and South Poles,” Zhang said.

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"I would think there are so many other visually impaired people around the world and also in Asia, and I hope what I did can be an inspiration for them," he added. Zhang, who became blind at age 21 due to glaucoma, works as a masseur at a hospital in Tibet, where he lives with his wife. He trained for five years before climbing Everest, carrying bags packed with about 60 pounds of weight up the staircase of the hospital where he works. He also climbed several smaller peaks in China. On the Everest climb, he said it was especially difficult navigating the slippery trails and moving around blocks of ice because of high winds on the mountain.

(Read more Mount Everest stories.)

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