Quadriplegic man conquers Machu Picchu with loyal friends and steeling determination
(9news) - A quadriplegic adventurer from Sydney’s northern beaches has refused to concede to obstacles, achieving one of his many dreams of conquering Machu Picchu.
Philip Stephens, from Manly, was involved in a freak accident while diving in 1978 - when he was just 18 - snapping his neck when he hit the ocean floor.
Last month, he returned from a trip across South America with friends and managed to defy odds and reach the top of Machu Picchu.
“It was exhausting but it was just one of those things. A friend of mine came back from Machu Picchu got back and said, ‘mate, you have to go’,” Mr Stephens told Weekend TODAY this morning.
He took his friend’s advice and off he went with the help of his good friends and former carers, Emiliano Bisson and Marcos Peluffo.
“Lots and lots of stairs. So much muscle on these guys’ part… I didn’t know what I was in for,” Mr Stephens said.
The six-hour arduous trek involved the men taking turns of carrying Mr Stephens for “80 percent of the time” – the rest was spent in his wheelchair.
He said the moment he was turned around in his wheelchair at the top was a mixture of elation and disbelief.
“I just went silent. It was such an emotional moment, and then the guys high fived each other and gave me a big hug,” Mr Stephens said.
Mr Bisson said it took “teamwork” and the help of a guide.
“I helped to pick him up, move him around… It was just strength,” he said.
Mr Peluffo said they were excited to “get to the dream” and didn’t want Mr Stephens to miss out.
The renowned adventurer has already been to 32 countries and doesn’t plan on stopping, telling hosts Deborah Knight and Tom Steinfort he might go to the Greek Islands next where there are “plenty of stairs”.
“[My cousin said] ‘you’ve done Machu Picchu, you can do Santorini’ - so we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.