Got Ice? Get Climbing!

Here is another freelance project I wrote for www.footstomp.com. Find the original story here: http://footstomp.com/blogs/1640/117/got-ice-get-climbing.
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Got Ice? Get Climbing!

By Heather Hopkins, Team FootStomp
(Original post March 3, 2015: www.footstomp.com.
Photos are not dolphindance photography's.)

Much of the U.S. is covered in it, homes are surrounded by its tumble-producing, crunchy, slippery paths, sidewalks hidden by glistening mounds of whiteness, and roads coated with the infamous dangerous black…ICE! As I peruse social media and make small talk with the neighbors, the theme is always the same this time of year…”I’m so over the snow!” “When will spring be here?!” “I so need a vacation from the cold!” “Stupid groundhog!” But if you are among the adventure seeking, cold-never-stopped-you, crowd, ice is exactly what you are still looking forward to this time of year.



Ice climbing was introduced in the 1960s and has grown not just among daredevil groups, but for those looking to challenge themselves in a new way, it’s the perfect combination of focus, strength training, and tranquility. Adaptive ice climbing programs, like Paradox Sports Ice - http://paradoxsports.org/causes/paradox-ice/ - make the challenge possible for anyone wanting to pursue adaptive ice climbing. Specialized adaptive equipment and instruction is provided and some adventurers have even created their own equipment.


Adaptive ice climber Sean O’Neill is also an artist, which could be why he was inspired in part by Leonardo da Vinci’s block-and-tackle system when he built most of his own ice tools. On February 26, 2014, Sean O’Neill became the first paraplegic to ascend what is said to be one of the most difficult ice climbs in the country, the 365 foot Bridal Veil Falls near Telluride, CO. "For Sean to go and climb something like Bridal Veil Falls sends a really clear message that life is what you make it," said Timmy O’Neill, co-founder of Paradox Sports and Sean’s brother. Watch as Sean accomplished his adventure in this six minute movie, “Prevail”, filmed on location by his brother Timmy: https://vimeo.com/112216202. And learn more about his undertaking in the Denver Post, March 6, 2014 article: http://www.denverpost.com/wintersports/ci_25290924/paraplegic-climber-inspires-ascent-frozen-bridal-veil-falls?source=infinite

Sean O’Neill leading an adaptive ice climbing clinic just days after his 365 foot ice climb.

Timmy O'Neill and Doug Sandok, Executive Director of Paradox Sports, were recently featured on a panel discussion, titled Adaptive Equipment and Disabled Athletes, at the 2015 Film Festival Flix Mountain and Adventure Film Festival. Listen in on ways their inspiring organization works to adapt equipment to make it possible for “anyone to get into the wilderness and up frozen waterfalls” and more! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmMZXV_Yo2I

Adaptive sports athlete, David Poole, designed a unique adaptive tool to enable people with limited mobility to ice climb. The tool keeps his legs bent and out of the way while he focuses on muscling his way up the ice with just ice axes and arm strength. Watch this cool video of David Poole’s first ice climbing ascent using his apparatus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I04RO3icAZ4#t=152.

David Poole and his new adaptive ice climbing apparatus.

Pete Davis, aka “one-armed Pete”, has been rock climbing since age 12, so ice climbing was an obvious adventure for him to seek out. Pete has developed a custom ice axe attachment for his elbow to hand prosthesis specifically for ice climbing.


Pete Davis and his self-designed ice axe.

His inspiration and drive to climb to a higher ground comes from a place no one else can touch but him. Many athletes and adventure enthusiasts may be able to relate to the experience of achieving goals, but tapping into one’s innermost motivation is a private journey. A story on Pete in the Durango Telegraph (http://www.durangotelegraph.com/05-01-20/second1.htm) reveals evidence of this. “It’s all such a deep personal challenge to be so focused. It’s an addiction to a temporary higher level of engagement. I’ve never found that intensity anywhere else in my life. It’s not you against the wall. It’s you against yourself.” The addiction also can change your path in life, and others along the way, as Pete’s life plan reveals: “I’d like to teach kids like me that retreating from a challenge is the worst possible thing to do,” he says. “I’d urge those kids to try something no matter how unrealistic that thing may seem. Because you really never know what you can do.”

So…got ice? Well…get climbing!



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