Inspired by yesterday’s Adaptive Climbing Competition, our girl crush this month is 2014 Paraclimbing World Champion in the B2 (blind) category, Alessia Refolo. As a baby Alessia survived a rare form of cancer, but the medication needed to cure her irreversibly damaged her retina and optic nerve. Although blind from the age of one and a half, Alessia considers herself lucky and blessed to even be alive. Now at the age of 24, she is taking the world by storm by earning paraclimbing championship titles, representing E9 clothing, and being featured in Vanity Fair Italia.
Hailing from the northwest Italian town of Ivrea, Alessia has always lead an active lifestyle. She grew up horseback riding, skiing, and ballroom dancing, and a few years ago took up climbing. Like many of us, Alessia became totally hooked on climbing and began training more seriously. Then, last September she competed at the 2014 Paraclimbing World Championship and took first place in the B2 category, which is a class of visually impaired athletes who have about 5% of their vision. Alessia explains, “The little that I see does not help me at all on the wall and I need the instructor to show me all the movements to be done.” She further explains, “When I climb my coach also becomes my guide and tells me the commands via a Bluetooth headset. My command code is based on the hours of the clock and it’s as if I could find the center of a large clock. It is very important to have a relationship of trust between the athlete and the guide.” To better understand the B2 category and just what it’s like for climbers in the Paraclimbing World Championship check out Alessia’s 2014 championship climb in the video below.
What strikes us most about Alessia is her incredibly positive attitude and outgoing spirit. She loves showing off her feminine side and has the simple, yet admirable aspiration of attaining “360 degrees of happiness”. Thank you, Alessia, for inspiring us this month!