Inspiring Pair of Deaf Climbers Complete Historic Climb of Mount Everest

In 2016, Japanese climber Satoshi Tamura became the first Deaf person to summit Mount Everest. After his achievement, Nepal stopped issuing climbing permits to people with disabilities, and it wasn't until 2018 that the ban was finally repealed. Five years later, the Deaf community has a lot to celebrate as Scott Lehmann and Shayna Unger became the third and fourth Deaf people to reach the peak of the world's tallest mountain, with Unger being the first deaf woman to ever summit Everest.

The adventurous couple has been together since high school but only began pursuing climbing in 2015. Lehmann began learning climbing techniques by watching YouTube and passed on his knowledge to Unger. Then, when the time came for expeditions, they used a voice-to-text translation app to communicate with their guide and other climbers. However, due to the extreme conditions surrounding Everest and other tall mountains, they sought out other solutions.

Ultimately, Lehmann and Unger spent three weeks teaching their sherpas basic ASL (American Sign Language) until they could communicate without too much trouble. This extra effort proved life-saving as there were several occasions when the couple needed the sherpas' assistance, like when Lehmann's mask was filled with ice. “There’s a lot of different barriers we had to go through to get to Everest, so when we reached the top we felt like, we overcame the odds,” Unger says. “We were really proud of ourselves.”

Before Lehmann and Unger reached the summit of Mount Everest they crossed paths with another Deaf climber from Malaysia named Muhammad Hawari Hashim. He reached the top of the mountain on May 18, making him the second Deaf person to achieve such a feat. However, he has not been seen since, and a search mission was abandoned on June 6. “Of course, we know that mountain climbing comes with risks,” Unger adds. “But it happened to our friend and our Deaf community, and it’s not easy for us.”

Lehmann and Unger are now looking to make more history for the Deaf community. Their next goal is to complete all Seven Summits, which are the highest mountains on each continent. So far, the couple has already summitted Everest, Kilimanjaro, Aconagua, and Denali. “With the right attitude and the right adjustments, (the outdoors) is available for Deaf and hard of hearing people,” Lehmann says. “It’s available for people with disabilities.”

Climbers Scott Lehmann and Shayna Unger became the third and fourth deaf people to ever reach the top of Mount Everest.

Unger is the first-ever deaf woman to summit Mount Everest.

The couple is now aiming to complete all Seven Summits, which are the tallest mountains on each continent.

Scott Lehmann and Shayna Unger: Website | Instagram | YouTube
h/t: [CNN]

All images via Scott Lehmann and Shayna Unger.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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