Steve Plain Overcame A Broken Neck To Climb Mountains

Steve Plain has climbed to the top of Mt Everest and broken the world speed record, just a few years after doctors predicted he would never walk again.

What you need to know
  • Australian engineer Steve Plain feared he would never walk again after breaking his neck after being dumped by a wave in 2014
  • Now the 36 year-old is hoping to reach the top of Mt Everest in an attempt to set a new world speed record
  • Doctors predicted he may never regain full movement, having suffered a spinal injury commonly called a ‘hangman’s fracture’

Update: Ten Eyewitness News has been told Steve Plain has climbed to the summit of Mt Everest, and has broken the world speed record.

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An Australian engineer who feared he would never walk again after breaking his neck swimming is on the cusp of breaking a world mountain climbing record.

Steve Plain set himself the mission of climbing the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. It’s an adventure that’s already taken him to Africa, South America, Alaska. Now, he’s in Asia preparing for his final climb -- Mount Everest.

Plain hit the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro on February 14, setting a new standard for Valentines Day outings. Image: Project 7 in 4

“Having been on the road for four, five months now and at base camp we’re here for about five weeks, it’s almost like a home away from home," he told TEN Eyewitness News from Nepal.

"We can sleep in the same bed for consecutive nights which is quite enjoyable.”

But the rest and respite will be over soon. A break in the weather means he’s aiming to summit earth’s highest mountain in the coming days.

“The conditions heading up at the moment are amazing”.

If the 36 year-old reaches the top before Tuesday, 22 May he will set a new world speed record. An amazing feat considering he broke his neck in body surfing at Perth’s Cottesloe Beach in 2014.

“I put my head down to body surf under a wave and that was the last thing I remember,” Plain recalled.

At just below 6000m on Mt. Aconcagua, it was all smiles during an acclimatisation hike. Image: Project 7 in 4
'It was time to start living'

Doctors predicted he may never regain full movement, having suffered a spinal injury commonly called a ‘hangman’s fracture’.

It was more than 100 days before he could even sit upright. After spending so long staring at a ceiling, Plain declared “it was time to start living.”

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His mission, Project 7in4 began with climbing Mount Vinson in Antarctica in January. After that he conquered Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Cartensz Pyramid in Indonesia, Mount Elbrus in Russia and Denali, the highest peak in North America last month.

“With all six of them, we’ve been on the road for so long, they all start to blur one into another at the moment. Looking back it’s hard to pick a most memorable moment,” Plain said.

On top of personal ambition, Plain is fuelled by a drive to repay the kindness he received immediately after his accident. Particularly the volunteer life savers who pulled him from the water and the medical experts who helped him back on his feet.

Project 7in4 is raising money for Surf Life Saving WA and Spinal Cure Australia.