Rock Climbing gives those with physical disabilities the opportunity to reach heights they never thought possible. With slight modifications to the rope and belay system people with little to no use of their legs can climb the wall just like their able-bodied peers. By securing a second rope into the back of a traditional climbing harness, called a “Z-line system”, it will provide additional support and keep the climber’s legs out of the way so they can climb the wall.
Other modifications are necessary depending on skill level. Generally, bigger hand and foot holds to the wall to make it easier to grip. Knee pads as well as helmets are worn for protection. Climbers with latex allergies must be careful as latex is in the tape commonly used to mark climbing routes.
For rock climbing opportunities for those geared with disabilities, check out the National Sports Center’s Programs here: www.nscd.org/nscd-programs.php
A local paraplegic rock climber named Mark Wellman scaled El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite solely on arm power and special adaptive climbing equipment. Read his story and find adaptive equipment on his website here: www.nolimitstahoe.com
To hear about an amazing story of a quadriplegic rock climber, check out VerticalChallenge.org here: www.verticalchallenge.org