Sunday, May 31st, OutdoorFest, Brooklyn Boulders, and Adaptive Climbing Group will be hosting Strong Climb: An Adaptive Climbing Competition. Let’s just say this isn’t your average climbing competition, it’s more like the kind of comp that Charles Darwin would’ve dreamed up. Sponsored by Adidas Outdoors and organized by Adaptive Climber, Kareemah Batts, the competition will challenge both able-bodied and adaptive climbers to compete in adaptive style climbing. Later in the event, Adidas athlete and three time national lead climbing champion, Delaney Miller, and sponsored paraclimber Julia Sikut will compete in the various challenges.
While the competition aims to raise awareness and money for the Adaptive Climbing group, Delaney explained that she became involved “because it also helps to bring a stronger sense of community between adaptive climbers and the rest of the climbing community. When I went to compete in the World Championship in Gijon, it felt like the USA Team was split between the para-climbers and fully abled climbers. My hope is that events like this will help unite the climbing community so that everyone feels connected, regardless of ability or health.” Julia Sikut was one of the para-climbers competing at the World Championships in Gijon. She also leads weekly adaptive climbing sessions at BKB Somerville. She hopes that participants and observers “may learn about different body types and what they can achieve. I don’t think anyone would assume its ‘easy’ for someone to climb with one arm, or for someone to climb without the use of legs. But sometimes people (disabled or not) inaccurately assess the abilities of others just based on first glance. I hope this competition gives all different body types a chance to accurately represent themselves and what they are capable of doing.”
The three categories of competition are:
“Climbing Blind”: Paired competition, climber is blindfolded. Climber must stay on route. Best time, most holds on while climbing, wins.
“Look Ma! Just Hands”: Climber must climb routes by campusing only (no feet).
“Hop to It”: Climber to choose one leg to climb with for entire route and cannot switch feet during route.
Each challenge will be run by someone who has the disability that the station attempts to replicate, and will share their experience as an adaptive climber. “Watching climbers push themselves outside of their comfort zones is always inspirational and exciting,” shared Delaney. In fact, for Julia, climbing was one of the first adaptive sports she tried after an accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. Says Julia, “I enjoy the problem solving and independence.” Outdoor Fest Founder Sarah Knapp explained, “While climbing competitions and fundraisers happen all the time, this event is taking it to the next level and providing an experience for everyone that will hopefully change perspectives and build community.”
Climb on! ~Cate