This month, we’re crushing on Maureen Beck, a self-proclaimed evangelist of adaptive climbing with an infectious and insatiable drive to push hard, whether training for the competition scene or finding the perfect crack to fit her stump into. It’s worth mentioning that she was born without a hand, though this hasn’t stopped her from excelling in a sport that has historically depended on having most limbs intact. Plus, she hails from our neck of the woods, born in Maine and raised on the best climbs that New Hampshire and the Adirondacks have to offer. What’s not to love?
She’s a competitive paraclimber, with an impressive resume of 5 national championships (2 bouldering and 3 sport) as an Upper Limb Amputee and a gold medal in the IFSC World Paraclimbing Championships in Upper Limb Masters. When not pulling on plastic or training for comps, she’s often trying to push her limits outside on sport and gear. “With sport, I’m trying to push my grades and figure out the best ways to clip safely with one hand. In trad, I’m a total crack-a-holic, and if I can fit my stump in it, it’s fair game. I look forward to my week in Indian Creek every year, and have high hopes of pushing some boundaries this fall once comp season is over.”
However, she cites her greatest achievement as her contribution to the growth of the sport of paraclimbing, and actively recruits new climbers to the sport. According to Maureen, “No one I spy in line at the grocery with a prosthetic limb or in a wheelchair is safe from me inviting them to an adaptive climbing event.” As an adaptive climber, she speaks of failure in climbing from a unique perspective.
“I’m slowly learning to accept the word ‘Can’t.’ It seems that we’re constantly surrounded by a can-do, don’t quit, never give up expectation. ‘Your only limits are the ones you set on yourself’, yada yada. That’s a tough spot to get in mentally, because failure IS a part of our sport. For me it’s a little more extreme – I can feel really strong on something that’s a hard grade, and I can fail on a 5.easy if there is a hold I can’t use with my stump. But anyone can get sucked into thinking that because they failed, that they themselves are a failure. Climbing is one of those sports where you need to come to terms with finding the successes in your failure, and finding success through failure.”
Up until relatively recently, competitive climbing was a niche sport, and competitive paraclimbing even more so. However, with the rapid growth of the sport and inclusion in the Olympics, we expect great things from Maureen and her teammates. This year, she and several amazing others have earned a spot on the US National Team and are raising funds for their trip. Here at Crux Crush, we will be rooting for them in less than a month at World Championships in Paris, France!