A New Zealand mountaineer who lost both legs in a climbing accident has become the first double amputee to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Mark Inglis, 47, phoned to say he had reached the top of the world's highest peak on Monday and had returned to base Camp 4, his wife Anne told reporters.

Further information: BBC News


Mark Inglis at Everest ABC Camp (image courtesy Mark Inglis)

Inglis spent 40 days on the mountain ahead of the summit attempt

He had been carrying spare prosthetic legs in case of an accident, but there had been "no issues", Mrs Inglis said.

Mr Inglis lost both legs beneath the knee after getting frostbite in 1982.

He was scaling Mount Cook, New Zealand's tallest mountain, when bad weather forced him and his climbing partner to spend two weeks in an ice cave. They were barely alive when rescued.

But the accident did not deter Mr Inglis, who continued climbing, became a ski guide, and took a silver medal in cycling at the Sydney Paralympics.

I'm not doing this to be the first double amputee – if I am then it's the icing on the cake

Mark Inglis

He scaled 8,201-metre (26,906-foot) Mount Cho Oyu in Tibet in 2004, and began his attempt at 8,850-metre Mount Everest some 40 days ago.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, has congratulated Mr Inglis on his Everest achievement.

He set off for the summit in perfect weather early Monday, said Mrs Inglis. From her South Island home, she said he had called to tell her he had made it once back at Camp 4.

She said the phone reception was bad, and she had been unable to ascertain exactly when he had reached the summit, but she guessed that it was about midday.

Mrs Inglis told the BBC she was "extremely pleased" at his achievement, and she'd be "even more pleased when he gets back home".

No-one has previously scaled Everest using two artificial limbs.

But in an interview with the news agency AFP before the trip, Mr Inglis said: "I'm not doing this to be the first double amputee – if I am then it's the icing on the cake – but it's more about I've been climbing most of my life and Everest is the achievement really.

"And it gives you the knowledge of empowerment to do other things."