Disabled Athletes Scale Ice Falls

Group of athletes lacking limbs gather to climb for Gimps on Ice
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Group of athletes lacking limbs gather to climb for Gimps on Ice

A prosthetic arm equipped with an ice ax and crampons attached to entire prosthetic legs? It's not your basic ice climbing gear, but these aren't your basic ice climbers.

The 10-person group that gathered at Ouray, Colorado's ice park this weekend had an identical goal—to climb the 80-foot frozen waterfalls without their missing limbs. Hosted by Boulder's Paradox Sports, the climb was a part of Gimps on Ice, a festival to show that disabled athletes are able to match and even surpass the abilities of their more able-bodied counterparts.

Ice climbing is hard enough with the use of all your limbs but Malcolm Daly, Executive Director of Paradox Sports and amputee, said that being a disabled athlete isn't that much of an added challenge with the right mindset: "Ice is the great equalizer," he said on the program's Web site. "None of us can climb it without adaptive equipment. We just go one step further."

The self-designated "gimps" that ascended the frozen falls were a truly inspirational group. Molly Bloom, a 20-year-old that lost her leg in an limo accident at her high school prom, scaled the ice with customized studded gloves. Thirty-six-year-old Joe Miller was paralyzed in a military rappelling accident nine years ago and climbed the falls thinking of the doctor who told him he'd never walk again. Kate Sawford, a 27-year-old with a bum leg who's afraid of heights, strapped on a crampon and climbed on up.

There's nothing contradictory about the athletes at Paradox Sports—their determination, optimism and passion shape their ability, making up tenfold for their lost limbs. Inspiring athletes tackle more than just ice, of course: Check out BACKPACKER map correspondent Bob Coomber who climbed California fourteener White Mountain Peak in his wheelchair.

—Morgan Keys



Disabled athletes ascend to remember (Denver Post)