A Few Climbing Questions

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I was wondering if you could give me any suggestions on where to find more information that would be helpful for a beginner. I enjoyed pouring through your webpage, but I have to admit there was a lot of terminology that Ive never heard before. I was also curious if you thought that the loss of a leg (below the knee, right leg) would pose a serious problem, or if it would only be a minor inconvenience. I live in the midwest, and the only experience I have at this point is at an indoor rock climbing facility . My goal is to vacation in Colorado, and try some basic mountaineering . I thought you might know of some programs in that state, or perhaps a particular area that would be suited to the beginning climber.

-- Gary (GMC789@aol.com), December 18, 1997


A primer can be found at http://alumni.caltech.edu/~sedwards/climbing/

I've heard of climbers (might be actually only one person) with an artificial leg doing pretty hard stuff like big wall climbing or expedition on a 8000m peak. I think it depends on the type of climbing. Some stuff (ie rock-climbing free) requires a good proprioception which might be difficult to have with an artificial limb. Some (like the two activities I mention) don't. I don't know much about Colorado.

-- Quang-Tuan Luong (luong@ai.sri.com), December 18, 1997.

I recall that Hugh Herr went back into rock climbing in a big way after the amputation of both legs and climbed at a very high level. I don't know if he also did mountaineering after the loss of his legs. There has been stories (book?) written about him, and he developed his own artificial limbs specific to the sport.

-- Ron Heinsman (heinsman@ms4.hinet.net), January 01, 1998.

I think the best source to acquaint you with basic climbing terminology and technique is John Long's "How to Rock Climb!" It's a good, easy read, and not overly complex. The Mountaineers' "Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills" has always been the bible of climbing, but is quite a tome for someone new to the sport. Best, of course, is to find an experienced mentor.

I also have heard of a number of climbers missing limbs(1 or 2 legs). It seems to me that it could be a fairly big impediment for technical rock climbing, but it seems that people have become proficient at aid/big wall climbing despite their loss. I can't see why basic mountaineering would be a huge problem for you, if you can walk OK with an artificial limb. Many of colorado's peaks offer great, fairly easy walk up routes that offer excellent experiences for beginners. "Colorado's Fourteeners" is an excellent guide to the 54 highest peaks in the state, with good information on the "easiest" route up each of them. Good luck and happy climbing!

-- Steve Waydo (waydo@u.washington.edu), January 10, 1998.

Someone else has mentioned Hugh Herr. I live here in Denver and as I recall, Dr. Igor Gamow of the University of Colorado-Boulder help to develop some of the apparatus for Herr to continue his rock climbing; specially designed "feet" for specific climbing. You may be able to contact Dr. Gamow at CU-Boulder for more information. He is also the inventor of the Gamow bag for high altitude sickness.

I mountain bike regularly on the many trails outside of Denver (the Jefferson County Open Space trails) and am always seeing an incredibly strong mountain biker going up this steep inclines, etc. It just happens that he has only one leg. Quite inspirational to all of us. Best of luck to you. Cory S.

-- Cory Skluzak (Pipeknife@compuserve.com), April 22, 1999.

As an Australian, I can't give you much in the way of info about mountaineering in Colorado however as far as being an amputee rockclimber goes, there's plenty of precedents around which may be of interest:

- There is a British mountaineer (Norman Croucher) who lost both legs just below the knee when he was run over by a train in the 1960s (or thereabouts). His story 'A Man and his Mountains' was published by Kaye&Ward Ltd in 1984 (C/ The Windmill Press, Kingsood, Tadworth, Surrey (UK)). A brief bio is also available on the net at the following URL: http://www.nyt.co.uk/norman.htm

- Hugh Herr, who several people have already referred to, is extremely well known for both being an awesome climber and for his world-leading work in the area of prosthetics and related adaptive technologies. Lancaster Online's outdoor pages currently have an article about Hugh (posted in August 2000) which may be of interest - see http://www.lancasteronline.com/outdoors/camping/achievement.html

- There is an organisation called 'Challenge Aspen' in Colorado who run a range of different recreational programs for people with disabilities, including rockclimbing (see their website at http://www.challengeaspen.com). They have taught amputees to climb (indoors and outdoors) and have programs which also incorporate a range of other related outdoor activities.

- An Australian (Warren McDonald) who lost both his legs mid thigh)while climbing Mt Bowen (in northern Australia), climbs with the aid of specially designed climbing legs. He is a keen mountaineer and is planning to climb Kilimanjaro next year. For further information see http://www.partanimal.com/home.htm

- There are several people in my part of Australia who climb, despite having lost a leg (above knee). I've recently turned to climbing after a break of about 10 years so am only climbing around US5.3-5.6 (without prosthesis) however there's one guy I know of who was climbing 5.10+ (again without prosthesis).

Good luck with your climbing.

-- Elaine (elaine@cosmos.net.au), December 10, 2000.

A great resource for climbing is the book "On Rope." It's the best reference book i've seen for climbing/ rescue systems. I'm pretty sure the book goes over basic terminology.

Climbing Magizine puts out an issue of Go Climb! every few months that goes over gear terminology and its use. It's a beginers guide to climbing, just get proper instrution on that stuff before you go trying it.

-- Jim Davis (jmdavis384@aol.com), January 05, 2003.

If you want information on this topic,type in www.google.com, than type in artificial limbs, and click on the website that you think would have the most information!


~Bim Lunford~ P.S If you would like to ask my sister who specializes in artificial limbs, just write me an email and I will give you her email adress... her name is Kit Weathy. I wish u the best of luck... Kit and I send our love!

-- Bim Lunford (KimEqt555@aol.com), December 11, 2003.

Hello, I have been reading through some of these answers and, the late 'Ed Homer' was from my home town of blistery cold Duluth,MN. I and Ed made alot of technical climbs together, both on the face, and big mountains! Ed was a double amputee! two prosthesis legs. he summited denali and on the way to everest, but his quest cut short by a climbing accident where a boulder struck his head and killed him on rainier.


-- Dan Mickle (ice_man_21@hotmail.com), December 15, 2003.

Hello Chicago! It's me Kit Weathy! Well my sister Bim Lunford, was just telling me about this! Well, I strongly support your decision in whatever you choose to do! If you want to climb because, if it makes you happy! Go 4 it!

All of our love! We love you so much u dont even know! Love, Britt Lundy and Kim Weatherford oops um.. I mean Kit Weathy and Bim Lunford

-- Kit Weathy (Snow_boardnchica@yahoo.com), December 15, 2003.

SO this is the sight for hair transplants huh? it's a really good idea! My sister Kit Weathy just got a hair transplant on her back! It looks fantastic! All our love! Bim Lunford And Kit Weathy!

-- Bim Lunford (KimEqt555@aol.com), December 15, 2003.

Hello...It's us again! So how are youo guys doing...Well, After my sister Kit got her hair transplant on her back, shes been getting all the girls she ever wanted! Well ALL of our love!

Bim Lunford and Kit Weathy

-- Bim Lunford (Waropergal@aol.com), December 16, 2003.

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