Hong Kong – Due to cold and dizziness, Lai Chi-wai repeatedly struck his helmet to stay alert.
He went, pulling after pulling his hand, while trying to climb a Hong Kong skyscraper with a rope while sitting in his wheelchair.
However, at 800 feet, storms grew relentlessly stronger. The wheelchair started to spin. Mr. Lai, a former rock climber champ who had never been afraid of heights, began to fear for his life.
After swinging in the wind for about an hour, he called off the climb, away from his target. He was overwhelmed with disappointment. But in the process, he was the inspiration for a city fed up with political unrest and a relentless pandemic, raising more than $ 700,000 for charity.
During an interview on Monday, Mr. Lai, 38, watched workers remove the ropes and anchors he used to climb along the glass façade of the 1,050-foot-tall Nina Tower – a building the height of the Eiffel Tower – two days earlier.
He said, “I look up, I can see the adverse conditions I faced, and I feel fear and helplessness as I was suspended in the air.” “I also saw how close I came to achieving my goal.”
Mr. Lai said he exceeded his own expectations of strength, flexibility and decision-making during his 10-hour ascent. However, he said, “I did not expect that I would never be able to finish, as there is still some strength in my body. I have no excuses to make as an athlete.”
Mr. Lai is a four-time winner of the Asian Rock Climbing Championships and is ranked eighth in the world in the sport. He was paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident nine years ago.
Determined to keep climbing, Lion Rock, a steep mountain range that exemplifies Hong Kong’s resilience spirit amidst adversity, climbed into his wheelchair in 2016.
Skyscraper became his next target. He sought, as he put it, to “express the spirit of a rock lion in an urban jungle” by “constantly climbing.”
Its ascent began on Saturday morning under a blue sky and gentle breeze. By midday, however, strong winds were entangling the ropes he was climbing. His wheelchair was swaying back and forth, sometimes threatening to run into the building.
He climbed another twenty floors as the storms continued to erupt in bursts of five to 10 minutes, stopping to loosen the ropes.
At 800 feet, as the wind beat him relentlessly, his arms were constricted and his bandaged toes shrieked from the blisters. He also felt his body temperature drop. A team of supporters and rescuers sent him messages over the walkie-talkie asking if he wanted to stop.
Days after being called up for the time he put in the effort, he said, the climbing scenes still filled his head, keeping him up at night. Back at the skyscraper on Monday, his fingers were jagged, so he only used the tip of his thumb to rotate the tires of his wheelchair.
As of Monday, his efforts have raised US $ 735,000 to fund research on a Robotic exoskeleton For patients with SCI.
Praise him on the Internet. But what many saw as an unimaginable achievement of stamina still bore, for him, the bite of an unfulfilled dream.
He said, “I can only accept this version of events.” “But as an athlete, I don’t know if this is the best end. I don’t have a close yet. I’m still looking for answers.”