This past weekend in Kentucky I was blown away. Not just by the amazing walls of sandstone, but by the crew who came out for the Paradox Adaptive Climbing Clinic. We had eight climbers and four volunteers helping me make a some things happen that even as a seasoned climber and teacher, actually gave me tears of joy. James was a post polio child and uses a wheelchair to get around, the area that we climb at is up a set of about 80 steep steps and I was wondering how we would get him there. James slid out of the chair and crawled himself up the steps to the base, joking, and tellign me that climbing was on his bucket list. I went over the basics and had a climb ready to go for the crew, he tied in and pulled himself up the blocky start, from his chair, into the air for the first time. He had a huge amount of upper body strength and did awesome.
“Thanks to your guidance, this would not have been possiable. You are an inspiration and now my kids want to climb as well!” I taught him how to use a set of jumars explaining that he would be able to get to tthe anchors, James can do pull ups like crazy, and as soon as we had a line fixed, he was off. Jugging is hard work and Jmaes cruised the 65 feet to the last bolt, sweating, and insiring all to try hard and go till you think you can’t go anymore.
Aika has a neck fusion at C5/6 and was a 10 year climber. She had written off climbing and as we wrote over the month or so before the clinic I told her that she could make a comeback. Being honest, I wasn’t sure how it would go since her injury is only three months out from surgery. WHen I met her, she was able to walk with the use of a cane, we went to the cliff and after her and I spoke more about the
neck injury, I have a C5/6 fusion as well and can give some insight into how the body can move, I tied her into her first climb since her accident. She moved with the grace of a dancer, and as I watched her climb, I had goosebumbs. She went up slow, discovering her new body, and crying tears of joy. We all were emotional since this was her beginning again, no the end and we all knew that she was going to recover. “I am so inspired by you and can’t wait to heal and climb. THANK YOU!” Its funny, because SHE inspired all of us.
We also had another set of amputees, a care giver who works with the disabled and all of us were climbers for the weekend. We climbed all day on Sunday then attended the ROcktoberfest which is put on by the Red River Climbers Coaltion, an amazing group of climbers and business men who have been able to buy whole cliff bands so that climbing stays open and awesome to everyone in the Red.
The second day of the clinic was served with more motivstion, and more tears of joy from all, and I can’t tell you how blown away I am by the human spirit. After getting hurt badly in a climbing accident myself, to see people coming back after fresh injuries, life ling “disablilities”, and from a world where a disabled person is told to not do the things we do, it is so inspiring to me to see people who say “why not?” and try. Thats what these clinics do, it shows the world that we are not disabled
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if we choose to live a life of fullfillment, joy, and fun.