Utahn believed to be first to summit Everest with artificial knees

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ALPINE, Utah – A Utah man thought his dreams of climbing to the summit of Mount Everest were ruined due to health issues, but instead he made history by making the ascent with two artificial knees.

Greg Paul of Alpine is 61 years old, and recently he was at the top of the world.

“He’s just is not going to let his body slow him down,” said Billie Paul, Greg’s wife.

Brent Bartholomew, President of Ortho Development Corporation, said that resolve may make Paul’s feat a first.

“Somebody has now summited Mount Everest with knee replacements, first known person to do that ever,” Bartholomew said.

Rewind to eight years ago, when Greg Paul met with a doctor about his ailing knees.

“Going forward, your extreme sport should be like croquet,” he said of his doctor’s advice.

But, that advice didn’t sit well with the active skier, climber and cyclist.

“Well take me outside, back of the barn, and shoot me then,” Greg Paul said at the idea of limiting himself to croquet.

In 2008, Greg Paul’s right knee was replaced. In 2012, the year he first tried to summit Everest, his left was also replaced. The artificial joints are made here at a factory in Draper.

“The combination of a Utah company, Utah doctors and a Utah mountaineer, you know, together we summited the highest mountain in the world,” Bartholomew said.

Ortho Development Corporation sponsored Greg’s third Everest attempt.

“Greg is able to go and summit Mount Everest, what an inspiration for the average person,” Bartholomew said.

Billie Paul said they have a nickname for her husband now.

“We call him the poster child for knee replacements,” she said.

At 29,000 feet, even the poster child is subject to the whims one of the most dangerous climbs in the world.

“He did say he was scared to death and thought they were going to die, the weather got so bad,” Billie Paul said.

With the help of a Sherpa, Greg pushed on, spending 40 minutes, a curiously long time, on Everest’s summit.

“I can’t wait to talk to him to ask, ‘Why were you on the summit so long?’ because they call it the death zone after 26,000 feet,’” Billie Paul said.

Some answers will have to wait, as Greg Paul and his two artificial knees start the long climb down from the top of the world.