Inspirational Wednesday: Paralympian Cato Zahl Pedersen walked to the South Pole and climbed Mount Everest

Cato Zahl Pedersen is a Norwegian Paralympian, who always liked a challange. He won 13 gold medals and a silver medal across summer and winter Paralympic Games. 

At the age of 14 Pedersen lost both arms as a result of an accident. He climbed a live electric pole and his arms had to be amputated. “As a farmer this was a disaster, but soon I was quite positive about being without the most important thing for farming – my arms – and I started with sport. Everything was different in the world of sport. Outside it was so negative. It was about what I couldn’t do but sport was about what I could do, how I could improve.”

Cato tried swimming and table tennis but decided that he enjoyed alpine skiing the most. He competed at Arnhem, Geilo, Stoke Mandeville/New York Games, Lillehammer. He also competed in sailing at Sydney 2000. Now he is Norway’s Chef de Mission for the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Winter Games. He has filled this role at every edition since Beijing 2008. He also has a rehabilitation hospital named after him for people with illness or who have had accidents. 

Pederson walked to the South Pole and climbed Mount Everest. The bigger challange for him was the South Pole. “I climbed Everest but the last day we turned 200m below the summit because of expected weather conditions and too many people in the mountain. That was 8,650m and I am quite satisfied with that.The South Pole is tricky. You have a long journey, two months walking straight every day, and I felt that was the biggest achievement for me.”

“My biggest challenge is I need help. A tent is very uncomfortable without arms. Buttons, clothing, anything practical, taking off the prosthesis then you want to go to the toilet and you have to wake up your teammates and say ‘hello, help’. The mountain climbing was good because me and my sherpa were well co-ordinated so we found solutions. But in the tent it is a struggle.”


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