A 15-year-old American has become the first teenager with Down’s Syndrome to reach Everest Base Camp, according to his father, in an attempt to inspire different attitudes towards disabilities.
Eli Reimer, from Oregon, reached the 5,364-metres (17,500 foot) high camp in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains in mid-March after 10 days of trekking.
“Part of the focus of this trek was on having at least one disabled trekker go with us and, through their attempt, point to the abilities of the ‘dis’-abled,” his father Justin, who was part of the expedition team, told AFP.
The trek was also a fund-raiser for the Elisha Foundation, founded by Eli’s parents, which works with disabled people and their families.
While Eli is thought to be the first teen to reach the base camp, a 35-year-old man with Down’s Syndrome from Britain had previously made the same trip.
Down’s Syndrome, a condition in which the person has an extra chromosome, can cause cognitive delays, but advances in medicine, education, and social inclusion have meant that many live independently as adults.
“He’s sort of a superstar at school now,” his father said, explaining that Eli is in his second year of high school and attends a combination of “life skills” and mainstream courses.
Asked what he would tell his classmates when he returned to school this week, Eli said: “I liked base camp and being with my new friends on the trekking team.”
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the first summit of Mount Everest, which has subsequently been scaled thousands of times including by dozens of world record breakers.
Tom Whittaker, a British mountaineer, became the first person with a disability to summit the peak in 1998 after a car crash almost two decades earlier had forced him to have his foot amputated.