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Wounded South African Vet to Climb Mount Everest With Special ‘Ice Axe Arm’

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Private Jaco van Gass lost his left arm in Afghanistan when he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2009. But the 25-year-old from Middleburg, South Africa isn’t about to let that stop him.

Van Gass, who last year hiked to the North Pole with the Walking with the Wounded charity, is at Everest Base Camp in preparation for a trip up the world’s largest mountain in May. But he won’t be climbing like a mere mortal: “I came up with the idea to attach an ice axe to one of my prosthetics, so I kind of challenged the guys at Headley Court to see how we could get this done.”

The Guardian has more about his secret ingredient:

A key design feature Van Gass was keen to include was an electrical system to heat his stump.

He asked the engineers to use wires to connect two heat patches moulded into the prosthetic to a battery pack sewn into the thermal under-layer just over his heart.

The warmth of his body helps the three AA batteries last longer as the cold drains their power very quickly.

“This will keep the arm inside nice and toasty,” he said.

After he makes it down the mountain, perhaps he’ll get started on a career as a Bond villain.

(photo via David Cheskin/PA)

 

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