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West Midlands Paraclimbing Club

Courage

Resilience

Compassion

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Katy takes it outdoors

by Katherine

This trip marks a momentous occasion for the club member, Katy, as it was the first time she has been climbing outdoors. Tigs, Sophie, Katy, Laly and Folly took a trip down to Wales to give Katy her first outdoor climbing experience. After a few hiccups and set backs they finally got to climbing... But how did Katy feel about it? You can find out by checking out Katy's experience as described in her own words. 

Katy half way up one of her first climbs outdoors!!

Castle Inn Quarry 

By Katy Evans

Firstly, I want to justify why this trip was even more important to me. Unfortunately, as most disabled people know you have to fight for everything, even when that's the last thing you feel like doing. Days before the trip I had an assessment which laid bare everything I CAN'T do. It was a painful experience which left me feeling vulnerable, exposed and questioning my worth.
 
It was a welcome prospect to be able to escape this stress for a few days so, when Sophie text having already got to Wales in torrential rain to ask if I still wanted to come with the approaching storm, there was very little that would stop me getting there. As it was, we didn't get wet once and needed sun cream on the final day!

Much of living with a disability involves overcoming adversity to get to where you want to be and this has been honed through my rock climbing experiences so far. However, this was really put to the test in Wales. My keys were accidentally locked in my car with all my kit inside and it would be hours before we would be able to get into it.

Not wanting to miss out, I started my first ever outdoor climb in someone else's shoes and harness. It was a challenge to say the least. Pretty soon I realised the shoes were too big for me and I had very little grip on the rock. I have quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy so controlling my limbs and getting them to do what I want is a challenge at the best of times. I tend to be more reliant on my arms when I climb but the lack of suitable hand holds meant a lot of the momentum needed to come from my legs. I was determined to reach the top so with the support of everyone on the ground I kept going.
 

 

Katy climbing in Wales

Katy climbing in Wales

Katy climbing in Wales

Half way up I looked out at the view and the beautiful countryside. Heights don't usually scare me but I unexpectedly missed the familiarity of my full body harness and the reassuring support it gives around my shoulders. I suddenly felt very exposed in the regular harness and started worrying I was going to fall. I was determined to power through this fear. I felt safe in the knowledge that everyone knew what they were doing and they would never put me in an unsafe situation or let me do something they didn't think was possible. Knowing they believed in my capabilities, even if I didn't, allowed me to carry on with the climb.

Only being able to make small movements meant it was quite daunting to look up and see how much further I had to go. My weekly climbs at Redpoint Birmingham have taught me to just focus on what's immediately in front of me. When I get stuck, pushing just an extra inch opens up a whole new range of possibilities and the top feels reachable again. This knowledge helped me in the quarry but it is also transforming how I approach my life generally. I now have more appreciation for the small steps I'm taking rather than solely focusing on where I want to be. In a year that has been the most challenging for my mental health, the skills I'm learning through rock climbing have been crucial.

Katy climbing in Wales

Katy climbing in Wales, Tigs belaying

Katy climbing in Wales

Through this trip I have learned I am much more capable than I believe I am. I have a renewed appreciation for how my determination can keep moving me forwards even when I feel stuck. I also learned when going up a makeshift ramp made out of strips of slate, it isn’t advisable to do this with a box of eggs balanced on my lap but that’s a whole different story!

 

Thank you to everyone at the West Midlands Paraclimbing club who made this trip possible!

*************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Thank you, Katy, for sharing your first outdoor climbing experiences with us and thank you, Laly, for providing photos  :) 

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