Israeli mountaineer Nadav Ben Yehuda,
who rescued a Turkish climber who collapsed near the peak of Mount Everest in May, and in doing so gave up his quest to become the youngest person to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, climbed up the Kazbek Mountain in Eastern Georgia this week, and placed an Israeli
flag given to him by President Shimon Peres.
Ben Yehuda, who recently received the Presidential Medal of Honor
from Peres for 2012, scaled the 5,042 meter (16,542 feet) mountain, while still suffering from injuries to his right hand that he had sustained during his ordeal on Everest.
"During the first two nights, it was extremely cold and I still had a lot of pain in my hand," Ben Yehuda said, adding that "eventually, I managed to find ways to keep my hand warm."
"It wasn't a pleasant sight to see my fingers turning blue. I was constantly prepared to head back down if things became too tough," he said.
Ben Yehuda at Georgian peak (Photo: Anna Godjebizda)
"I was very tense throughout the entire climb. When I showed other climbers photos of my injured hand from two months ago, they had a hard time believing I was dealing with the climb so well. My climbing partners were very supportive and helped me throughout the journey," he added.
After planting the flag at the summit, Ben Yehuda said that the flag, which was given to him by Peres prior to his journey, symbolizes all of the good things that happened to him in Israel after returning from Everest.
"Placing the flag at the peak of the mountain symbolized my gratitude to the entire medical staff that took care of me, my family, my friends, President Peres and anyone else who has supported me along the way."
When reaching the summit, Ben Yehuda said that he had met a group of Turkish soldiers who were there as part of an international force. The soldiers called him by name and hugged him for saving a fellow Turkish citizen.
Peres said that he was proud of Ben Yehuda and proud of the strength of his spirit, his dedication and his love for the country. "I wish him a happy and healthy new year and the ability to conquer new heights."