KATHMANDU: HIV-infected Gopal Shrestha, 54, today left for the Mt Everest region to attempt to climb the world’s highest peak this spring season.
A resident of Ratnachowk in Pokhara, Shrestha said that he wanted to stand atop the roof of the world to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS and drug abuse.
Record-holder climber Phurba Tenjing Sherpa of Dreamers Destination said that he would help Shrestha’s attempt on Mt Everest.
Gyanendra Shrestha, a liaison officer for the Everest expedition said that Shrestha was the only member of the ‘Step-Up Campaign: Second Phase Everest Expedition’.
“I want to climb the world’s highest peak to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS as well as to end discrimination against those living with HIV,” the climber said.
Shrestha, who contracted the disease through syringe injection some 23 years ago, had also attempted to climb Mt Everest in 2015 but had to abandon his bid from the base camp following the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal, killing over 9,000 people.
“I want to be the first Nepali among over 30,000 persons living with HIV here to climb the world’s highest peak,” he said, adding that he had already scaled Island Peak (6,189 m) in 2014 and Virgin Peak/Khang Karpo (6,646 m) in 2016.
“I am physically and mentally strong enough to take this challenge,” he said.