It was time to hit the walls.
We had a great group turn up.
I haven’t done a lot of climbing since the Paraclimbing competition at the end of August so it was well and truly time to hit a wall. With the Enabling Good Lives work I’m involved in it could be easy to lose sight of what really drives me; climbing. On Saturday I was invited by Waikato Climbing Club and Parafed Waikato to help out with an adaptive climbing session hosted at Extreme Edge & Climbzone Hamilton. Thank you to David from Parafed Waikato, Sylvia from Extreme Edge Hamilton, Doug and and the club members from the Waikato Climbing Club that came along to haul ropes.

We had 6 people with a range of impairments/disabilities/(whatever terminology you prefer) came to challenge themselves. It was awesome to see them give it their all and achieve. The look of satisfaction and joy on people’s faces are they topped out on their first climbs was awesome and to see them progress to harder climbs then talking about coming back to climb more often is what really fires me up. To see people gain confidence through the vertical world really reminds me why I do some of the work that I have been doing lately; to provide a means for people to discover the potential in themselves and to see potential in other people.



I remember my first climb, nothing else mattered, my only thoughts were about how to get to the top. These days when I climb it’s still about getting to the top, but now it’s about getting to the top using the most efficient way with what I’ve got . The level of “difficulty” has definitely progressed during my time climbing and I’ve had to get creative with how I climb. By the end of the session I couldn’t help myself and hit the walls myself. I was pleased to find that I I was able to “on site” (climb a climb I had never seen before) some 14 & 15 graded climbs (Australian grading system). Yes, I had my ass handed to me a little on the 18, but at the end of the day, just because I can get my foot on a hold doesn’t mean that I can actually get my leg to straighten! I even think I had to use the “guide my foot to the hold with my hand” move just to get it there.


The beauty about climbing is that it covers all elements of fitness in a “low impact” setting.  Yes there could be a big impact (on many levels) if things go really wrong but the real risk of a ground fall is far lower than the perceived risk, if the right steps and systems are used. I digress and I could go on for hours…. climbing is a great all body work out and most people are surprised the first time they hit the wall on how tired they get. Through climbing I gained more function than I used to have and for that I’m grateful I found climbing. Yes, there are some additional factors that may need to be accounted for due to a person’s individual “functional ability” but climbing is all about finding safe solutions to a problem.



It was not lost on me that I have been working on a “safeguarding” working group for the last few weeks and I was taking people on a “risky” activity, and I think it shows the opportunity that I have been given through the Enabling Good Lives System Transformation to provide an alternative view on “lived experience of disability”, we are all different and not numbers, pieces of paper or a file and we all want and need different things to really make the most out of life. Informed and supported decision making with a person centered approach is critical to living not just a good life but a great life.
I had a fabulous afternoon in Hamilton with the Parafed Waikato group and I found it so heartening to see others willing to push themselves. I think a couple have definitely been bitten by the climbing bug and hopefully we will see some at the competition next year!
You can tell someone loves climbing already!
Keep an eye out for my next blog over the next few days on the Disabled Core Group meeting yesterday and the Regional Leadership Group meeting for Enabling Good Lives!

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