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Mark Inglis’ climb benefits charity working for landmine amputees in Cambodia

Dorothy - 11/08/06

To celebrate Mark’s ascent of Mt Everest, Cellier Le Brun released a premium aged vintage methode traditionnelle wine, aptly named Summit 8850, and donated to the Cambodia Trust and Kompong Chh’nang Rehabilitation Centre $10.00 from each bottle sold.


Mark Inglis smiles as he holds up a bottle of Summit 8850.
Mark Inglis smiles as he holds up a bottle of Summit 8850.

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Mark Inglis’ recent astonishing achievement of being the first double amputee to reach the summit of Mount Everest has meant that his name is well known round the world, but how many people know about the many facets of this remarkable man’s life – his passion for the mountains, his determination to take on a seemingly impossible challenge and succeed, his deep concern for the sufferings of other amputees in countries where there are few health services, his fund raising to assist them, and his skill as a wine maker. All these facets of Mark’s life combined to bring about Cellier Le Brun’s donation of $18,240 to the Cambodia Trust and its Kompong Chh’nang Rehabilitation Centre.

How did it all begin?
Experience in the mountains

When Mark was young he had the job of his dreams and worked as a Search and Rescue Mountaineer in Mount Cook National Park, but in November 1982 he was marooned with another climber, Philip Doole, in an ice cave high on Aoraki/Mt Cook during a fourteen day storm. Both climbers lost their legs below the knees with frostbite.

Need for a new career
Mark then applied his energies to study at Lincoln College and graduated with a first class honours degree in Human Biology. After completing his honours at the Christchurch School of Medicine, he worked for several years as a scientific officer with the haematology research group, developing techniques to identify leukaemias using molecular biology.

In 1992 he saw an advertisement for a trainee winemaker with Montana. He was appointed to the job and proved very successful. He worked for ten years with Montana developing their well known wines like Sauvignon Blanc.

He was recognised internationally for his winemaking skills when Deutz Marlborough Cuvée won Sparkling Wine of the Year at the 1998 London International Wine Challenge.

Involvement in prosthetic design
In 1998 he began working with Wayne Alexander of Britten Motorcycles and designing very light carbon fibre legs. He won a $20,000 AMP Achiever Scholarship and used the funds to support this work.

Participating in sport
He won a number of medals for competing in disabled skiing events. He turned his enthusiasm to cycling in the 1990s and in the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games he won a silver medal for track cycling. He completed a non-stop ride from Kaitaia, in the far north of New Zealand, to Bluff, in the far south of the South Island, 2500 km, the length of New Zealand.

Back to the mountains
His passion for climbing did not cease after his disastrous experience on Aoraki/Mount Cook in 1982. In January 2002 he returned to the mountain and reached the summit. In September 2004 he became the first double-amputee to summit an 8000m peak. He climbed the Himalayan peak Cho Oyu, 6th highest in the world at 8201m.

Motivational speaking
In 2002 Mark left Montana to write a book and became more involved in motivational public and corporate speaking.

Involvement with Cambodia Trust
It was through his motivational speaking that Mark first became involved with the Cambodia Trust in October 2003 when he was invited to speak at the Graduation ceremony of the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics run by the Cambodia Trust in Phnom Penh. As the school was set up to train Prosthetists and Orthotists to work with the 40,000 landmine victims in Cambodia Mark was an ideal motivational speaker for their graduation as he not only wears prosthetics but is also skilled in designing and making them. Mark stayed on after graduation at his own expense to visit the Rehabilitation Centres run by the Trust and worked with the staff and students.. He was impressed by the work that they were doing, but concerned at the fact that the school is funded solely by donations and has no certainty about receiving ongoing support.. He came back to New Zealand determined to support this work.

Ascent of Everest
His fitness training and his return to mountaineering combined to prepare him for his ascent of Everest.

In his diary in February 2006 he wrote about his activities – travelling in Australasia, developing and marketing his sports food, Peak Fuel, doing wine consulting, making motivational presentations, training on the mountains behind his home at Hanmer, riding his road bike or his mountain bike and working on a hypoxic breathing system to simulate altitudes of over 6000m ….

To give himself the best chance of success on Everest he chose to climb with a Himalayan Experience team led by Russell Brice, an ex-pat Kiwi who is based in Chamioux in France. Russell had taken 188 climbers to the summit of Cho Oyu, Shishapangma and Everest without a serious accident.

Before attempting the climb Mark wrote of his objectives.

"For me the Objective is not a one-dimensional obsession, but is one part of the passion to challenge myself while at the same time attempting to make a difference in this world of ours.

"I guess the experience can be best described as:

  1. To be the first double amputee to climb Mount Everest (8868m), joining a select group of amputees to attempt this feat. This climb is an extreme endeavour in its own right, without the complication of being a double amputee.
  2. "
  3. To film the ascent/descent, much of the filming will be done as video diary style, with Mark presenting.
  4. "
  5. To actively assist the disabled of Tibet specifically sourcing help to provide the limbless with functioning limbs. Disabled people are a rare sight in Tibet, the environment so harsh that few survive. By creating an opportunity for them to effectively work by sourcing limbs we can give back to them their lives.
  6. "

Mark reached the summit of Mt Everest on Monday 15 May, 2006.


Mark Inglis on the summit of Mt Everest
Mark Inglis on the summit of Mt Everest

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Funds donated to the Cambodia Trust of New Zealand
Mark Inglis’ successful climb of Mount Everest has benefited the Cambodia Trust of New Zealand. To celebrate his ascent of Mount Everest, Cellier Le Brun released a premium aged vintage methode traditionnelle wine, aptly named Summit 8850. To support Mark’s passion to make a difference in the world, Cellier Le Brun donated ten dollars from each bottle sold, to the Cambodia Trust and its Kompong Chh’nang Rehabilitation Centre.

At the Trust’s annual dinner in July, Mark’s daughter Lucy presented the Trust with a cheque for $18,240 on behalf of Marlborough winemakers Cellier Le Brun. Mark is their chief winemaker.


Cambodia Trust dinner
Cambodia Trust dinner

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At the annual dinner of the Cambodia Trust of New Zealand - Farib Sos, Shona Macaskill, Lucy Inglis, Niborom Young and Jean Claude Sacheun.
Cellier Le Brun general manager, Neville Marr, said he was delighted with the project. “It met both of its objectives; it was our way of saying congratulations to Mark and it has allowed Mark to further his work to support those less fortunate via the Cambodia Trust.”

Spokesperson for the Cambodia Trust Shona Macaskill, said that the dinner was a huge success topped off by the presentation of the cheque. “Mark has been generous to the Trust for many years. We are very grateful for everything he does for us.”

Photos for this article were supplied by Orbit Communication.

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