Disability needn't stop you climbing

Posted by Tina Gardner on 11/11/2014
Photo: The Bendrigg Trust

Is climbing accessible to people with disabilities? Yes, absolutely. Britain boasts a paraclimbing world champion, an amputee Mountain Leader and a qualified climbing wall instructor with cerebral palsy. Above all, it’s a really supportive community for those wishing to try out the sport.

Climbing, hill walking and mountaineering are activities that are incredibly fulfilling as well as physically and mentally demanding. People of all ages, abilities and backgrounds can enjoy these activities and disability needn’t be seen as a barrier to participation.

With a wide range of activities, from indoor climbing to mountaineering, there’s plenty of scope to find an activity that suits you. Many people climb purely for recreation and fitness, while others choose to compete or even make it their job.

As the representative body for climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers in England and Wales, the BMC has an Equity Steering Group which works to remove any barriers to participation and is also implementing a Disability Action Plan.

The BMC supports providers of climbing-related activities to be inclusive of disabilities. We have helped to produce two booklets – ‘Climbing for all: disability awareness in rock climbing’ and ‘Walking for all: disability awareness in walking’ and in 2013 we hosted a BMC Disability Symposium at the Lake District Calvert Trust specialist outdoor centre.

To enable climbers to meet and compete against others with disabilities, the BMC runs an annual competition called the BMC Paraclimbing Series. There are eight different categories covering limb loss and impairment, sensory impairment, learning difficulties, emotional and behavioural difficulties, ADHD and Autistic Spectrum Condition.

GB Paraclimbing Team – inspiring successes

It’s really early days in the development of paraclimbing, however, the GB Paraclimbing Team already has a world champion – BMC ambassador Fran Brown. GB Paraclimbing Team manager Graeme Hill says “It’s absolutely fantastic to see disabled climbers having the opportunity to step into the competition arena at such a high level. The GB Team won an impressive six medals at this year’s World Paraclimbing Championships. A number of the disability categories need higher numbers but the growth of the sport is very exciting.” You can follow the GB Climbing Team on Twitter.

Through the work of ice climbing ace Andy Turner, interest is also growing in the sport of ice climbing and dry tooling and there are positive steps to set up a GB para ice-climbing team.

Reaching great heights

A number of climbers with disabilities have gone on to achieve qualifications which enable them to lead others in the mountains or instruct indoors. Nik Royale, a climber with progressive cerebral palsy, set himself the personal target of passing his Climbing Wall Award which means he is now qualified to instruct others at an indoor climbing wall. He has also climbed to the summit of Tryfan in North Wales.

Quadruple amputee Jamie Andrew gained his Mountain Leader after losing both hands and feet.  Jamie said: “Becoming a Mountain Leader seemed out of the question.  But over the years I have trained myself to always question limiting self-beliefs…Everyone involved in my training and assessment was extremely open and helpful in finding ways to overcome the obstacles I faced.”  Jamie was one of the organisers behind Scotland's first paraclimb competitions - read more on BBC Sport.

How do I get into climbing?

Back to the excitement of being a beginner, what are the first steps to get into climbing? Give the BMC a ring on 0161 445 6111. As mentioned earlier, the BMC has got an Equity Steering Group which has provided a great deal of knowledge around disability providing the BMC with the tools to answer a much broader set of questions.

Many walls and providers are now much more accessible either through their own initiative or by attending the Climbing for All course. The BMC’s domestic paraclimbing series is a completely open event. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t climbed before, you can still enter. Coaching for disabled people is also on the increase.

You can find a specialist activity centre for people with disabilities on the Adventure for All website.

It is also worth keeping an eye here on the BMC website, BMC TV, Twitter and Facebook where we post information and videos relating specifically to disability events.

Whichever way you choose, welcome you to the world of climbing!


This article was orignally written by the BMC for Momentum magazine.  See pages 16-18 of issue 3 where you'll also find a biography of BMC Ambassador Fran Brown.
 

Watch: a portrait of Fran Brown on BMC TV:


Watch an inspirational short film about visually impaired British paraclimber Rad Breeze on BMC TV:


 

Watch paraclimber Dave Bowes bouldering at Craig y Longridge on BMC TV:


 

Watch one-legged paraclimber Phill Mitchell try climbing on Peak gritstone on BMC TV:


 

Watch the BMC Disability Symposium 2013 on BMC TV:


 

Watch Jamie Andrew climb the Matterhorn in The Limbless Mountaineer on BMC TV:


 

Watch the BMC Paraclimbing Series 2013 on BMC TV:



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 3290 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Get into Climbing: new special edition magazine for beginners
0
Get into Climbing: new special edition magazine for beginners

Are you new to climbing? Or maybe you fancy giving it a go for the first time? Then you need a copy of our brand-new special edition magazine, called Get into Climbing. This one-off publication for beginners is now available in our online shop.
Read more »

3 gold medals, 1 bronze for GB Paraclimbing Team at Briançon
0
3 gold medals, 1 bronze for GB Paraclimbing Team at Briançon

It was an amazing performance by the GB Paraclimbing Team in the first IFSC World Cup of the year at Briançon, France. Great stuff all round and awesome to see the team earn three gold medals and one bronze.
Read more »

Watch live: the Paraclimbing Cup Briançon
1
Watch live: the Paraclimbing Cup Briançon

For the first time ever, the IFSC will livestream a dedicated Paraclimbing comp. Tune in to watch the first Paraclimbing Cup of 2018 live from Briançon, France, on 18 July!
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

Get into Climbing: new special edition magazine for beginners
0

Are you new to climbing? Or maybe you fancy giving it a go for the first time? Then you need a copy of our brand-new special edition magazine, called Get into Climbing. This one-off publication for beginners is now available in our online shop.
Read more »

3 gold medals, 1 bronze for GB Paraclimbing Team at Briançon
0

It was an amazing performance by the GB Paraclimbing Team in the first IFSC World Cup of the year at Briançon, France. Great stuff all round and awesome to see the team earn three gold medals and one bronze.
Read more »

Watch live: the Paraclimbing Cup Briançon
1

For the first time ever, the IFSC will livestream a dedicated Paraclimbing comp. Tune in to watch the first Paraclimbing Cup of 2018 live from Briançon, France, on 18 July!
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »