Three years after a rocket-propelled grenade blew off Private Jaco van Gass's left arm while he was serving in Afghanistan, the 25-year-old South African is busy testing an invention of his own design -- a prosthetic ice axe -- as he prepares to climb Mount Everest in May, alongside five fellow injured servicemen.
"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 (a military rehab center in the U.K.) to see how we could get this done. ... The ice axe is there for back-up. Once we do stuff like the Lhotse ice face and the Hillary Step, it might come into aid. It's there for the places where I could slip and I'm not attached to a fixed rope."