Footless Ecuadoran mountaineer to climb K2

Ecuadorean climber Santiago Quintero -- who has scaled seven of the world's 14 highest mountains -- speaks to AFP during an interview in Ilalo, on May 3, 2016 | © AFP | Rodrigo Buendia
Ecuadorean climber Santiago Quintero -- who has scaled seven of the world's 14 highest mountains -- speaks to AFP during an interview in Ilalo, on May 3, 2016 | © AFP | Rodrigo Buendia

by Santiago P‪iedra Silva
Ilaló (Ecuador) (AFP) | 14 May 2016 11:25

Santiago Quintero had half of each foot amputated for frostbite after climbing Aconcagua in Argentina in 2002. But that has not stopped him.

“They told me I would never climb 5,000-meter mountains again,” the smiling 41-year-old told AFP.

“But no one can tell me how I am and what I am. Being what I want to be is my decision.”

Quintero scaled Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet), in 2013. The expedition landed him in the hospital in intensive care.

Now he is aiming to conquer K2 — the second-highest mountain at 8,611 meters, but considered technically the hardest to climb.

He ascended K2, which is on the border between China and Pakistan, once before but stopped short of the summit. His party had to turn back when they sank up to their chests in snow.

Ecuadorean climber Santiago Quintero had half of each foot amputated for frostbite after his 2002 ascent of the Aconcagua mountain in Argentina
Ecuadorean climber Santiago Quintero had half of each foot amputated for frostbite after his 2002 ascent of the Aconcagua mountain in Argentina | © AFP | Rodrigo Buendia

He says he caught frostbite on Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas, because he could not afford a $100 pair of waterproof covers for his boots.

He spent nine months in the hospital in Spain, where doctors performed the amputations, then a further five years waiting to have prosthetic feet fitted.

With those artificial members, he has already scaled seven of the 14 mountains in the world that are over 8,000 meters high.

In total 188 mountaineers have scaled K2.

“They did it with their bodies fully intact,” said Quintero. “That’s quite different.”

He plans to start his hike up K2 on June 13 and finish on July 31.

“I am quite determined,” he told AFP, while resting during a training climb on the extinct Ilalo volcano in northern Ecuador.

“Without the mountains, I think I would rather be dead.”

© 2016 AFP

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