The Paraclimbing World Championship in Innsbruck was an amazing experience for me. Just like in past years, the paraclimbing event was organized alongside the traditional climbing disciplines (lead, bouldering and speed), however, this year the organizers (Austria Climbing and IFSC) put a lot of attention to integrating paraclimbing properly into this 10-day celebration of climbing. As a result, the finalists of all paraclimbing categories got to climb on the impressively overhanging lead wall. This seemed as an impossibility to me at first, however, with the help of fixing huge downward hanging objects on the wall (which made the routes less overhanging), it became not only a possibility but a visually appealing and fun 3-D route. I was definitely very excited to have the chance to climb on it!
I just got my first ever prosthetic arm. It’s not one of those fancy electronic hands where you can move “your” fingers. Instead, it’s one with a hook, custom-made for me by Hempel. Functionality above aesthetics. As a start, I wanted to be able to cross-country ski with a pole in my left hand, to do pull-ups with a good posture and to give out rope with my left arm when belaying. Then I figured that I could also use it on the campus board and finger board. And it would be totally cool to get an ice axe tool with it at one point (as a friend suggested). Probably I’ll find even more uses for it as I start practicing.
For now, here is a short video of my first testing: campus board, finger board and pull-ups. Kind of a baseline.
One useful climbing technique I often rely on is stepping high with one foot. This allows me to move up on the wall more with my feet than with my arms, and also lets me reach higher. This is essential when your arm is too short to reach a hold and/or you can’t grip properly with one hand (in the absence of fingers). Stepping high has become a key element of my climbing style. Lately I realized that I use this method far more than my climbing partner (for obvious reasons). I decided to do a bit of demonstration of the matter in this blog post.
Ever since I started climbing in 2012, I have kept wondering about how far I can push my climbing without fingers on my left hand. For a long time, I thought that 6a (VI+) would be a limit. Now, I know for sure that my limit of possibility lies somewhere beyond 6c (VIII-). This story is about my hilly road of progress towards pushing my limits.
Okay, maybe it’s actually about how my injuries have helped me push my limits. But in my case, these two are almost the same.