Adaptive Climbing at Berkeley Ironworks

 
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Are you the climber who converts ground-dwelling friends into chimps and crushers? We know the feeling. At Touchstone, we think that everyone should climb. And by everyone, we mean everyone! This is why Berkeley Ironworks has teamed up with Adaptive Adventures and the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP) to create a monthly adaptive climbing clinic. Earlier this month, climbers with disabilities pushed their limits on the wall, achieving new heights and pushing their boundaries.

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In order to prepare Ironworks staff for the clinic, world-class crusher Craig Demartino supplied the know-how on adapting the wall for any ability. Craig, the climbing coordinator for Adaptive Adventures, has adapted his climbing techniques for a below-the-knee amputation following a 100-foot fall in 2002. Craig says, “Being a part of the adaptive climbing movement, you can’t help but get excited to see people’s lives change as soon as they realize they CAN be a climber. Adaptive climbing gives us the quality of life we lost after trauma or the limits placed on us by society and empowers us to thrive.”

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Craig’s words rang true as climbers and volunteers felt the stoke on Friday, December 2nd. “I initially didn’t think I could climb at all given my disability,” climber Marissa wrote after participating in Ironwork’s adaptive climbing clinic. “Since this was all new to me, I was thinking I would be proud of myself if I was able to climb about six feet.” After reaching twenty feet and surpassing her fear of heights, Marissa found herself saying, “That was freaking awesome! It definitely gave me an adrenaline rush!”

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Climbers weren’t the only ones having a blast. Volunteer Victoria Pettus writes, “Working as part of Ironwork’s team on Friday was my first time helping with an adaptive event and it was wonderful—well organized and a lot of fun.” The atmosphere was easygoing and filled with “jokes, smiling and a very comfortable vibe.” Victoria was paired with a partner who was blind and ecstatic to “be out in public without her stick” and “climbing up a wall like Spiderwoman.” After a climbing partner says something like that, you can’t help but smile. Volunteers like Victoria make it possible for people with disabilities to live at new heights.

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Are you stoked to help?  You are welcome to join the fun! Email biwbelay@gmail.com for more info.

By Ryan Hussey