Climbing Out of the Chair and into the Air. How a Para Climber Climbed to a level of an Able-Bodied Climber.
Every week Ella & I have been climbing with Kareemah Batt’s and the crew of NYC Adaptive Climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, in Brooklyn, NY.
I will forever be grateful to Kareemah and this post by no means is a statement that I have out grown my friends or the group, but for a very long time I have been looking in awe at my family of climbing friends at BKB (Brooklyn boulders) and wondering if I had what it takes to lift myself out of my chair and climb with the able bodied climbers.
I have spent many a late night after getting home on a Thursday planning how to lift myself out of my chair, and what training I needed to do to strengthen my body. Or at least the parts that worked, to climb, not as an adaptive climber, just a climber.
Two weeks ago while waiting in queue to climb I rolled to the self belay wall and thought why not? What’s the worst that can happen? I fall and end up in a wheelchair? Oh wait I’m already in one for life so climb on.
Self belay is climbing with a cable attached, but there is no human on the other end like with adaptive climbing. No human to bring you safely to the ground, just a tension wire that doesn’t let you fall fast and dangerous to the floor. It is designed to lower you slowly but one mistake and your ass falls off the wall.
So that night, I climbed the wall known as Brooklyn Bridge and made it ¾ ways up all on my own and finally felt like those hours of planning just might finally work. A wonderful friend I had made over the months Kristina, a gorgeous talented, amazingly fit climber saw me and offered to give me tips and help me climb without adaptive groups or the restrictions of time that occur with a large group and not many belayers (the volunteers that your rope is tied to make sure of your safety when climbing).
So this Thursday after climbing the self belayer for the third time in a week, Kristina invited Ella and I to come early Saturday morning to climb with her and she would belay for us.
Normally I have only ever climbed the back room which has a mainly 5.9 and below route setting standard which is good but not the most difficult, after an hour on the subway.
We were at BKB at 8.30 am this morning bright eyed and bushy tailed with Zeus, the pissed off service dog, who was used to chilling till lunch time on Saturdays but this morning was out of the house by 6.30 am to catch two subways to Brooklyn. Above is me very tired in my 3E wheelchair love top on the Q train to Brooklyn.
Check out the deserted climbing gym we were the first there the blue wall at the far end would be mine by lunch time I just didn’t know it yet.
Here is Ella climbing the Brooklyn Bridge. If you notice the bright blue lump on the wall at the bottom right that was Ella’s highest just a week ago, but today here she made it all the way to the top.
Here I am doing my best and making it 80% to the top on self belay.
Here is my boy Zeus to the rescue when my next attempt I missed a hand grip and fell 20 feet to the floor.
We took a break and Zeus got some well deserved admiration from the climbing kids.
Here I am at a distance starting the 5.10 high wall in the gym.
Here I am almost to the top it is my best for the day a 5.10 route if you’re a climber you know that’s a difficult route rating.
We had a great day and here is the pic of the empty gym again notice the stalagmite from the ceiling with Kristina’s help I’m climbing it within a month.