Climbing is a brilliant activity which does not only require strength, but flexibility and mental nimbleness. They are many indoor climbing facilities that provide climbing equipment and even special rooms with special equipment, although many times this is only offered for those who can stand on their own two legs. Other centers offer climbing for those in a wheelchair, either with a special pulley system that permits the climber to ascend the wall or rock face using their upper body strength while sitting in the chair.
If the climber is not able to climb themselves, sometimes there is the option of being pulled up but, but this does not let the climber carry out the climb themselves but it does not prevent it from being a thrilling experience and experiencing a new sensation.
Another possibility for climbers is slab climbing. This consists in climbing rock faces that are less than a 90 degree incline and they can be less intimidating. They are also convenient for adding platforms and ledges which enable climbers to rest on the way up. If however the climber will be lowering themselves down the slab, this section should be free of ledges. It is important to keep in mind as well that if projecting bolt-on holds are being used, they must be positioned on either side of the body line, not along it as that the disabled climber does not have to pull themselves over the bolt-on holds.
Vertical or overhang walls can also be an option for disabled climbers and in many circumstances they can excel and even overtake able bodied climbers as they often have amazing upper body strength. The only downfall to these climbs is that it is more difficult for them to be able to rest on the way up so it is a good idea to have many leader placement points along the way up.
Disabled climbers can also try bouldering and traversing but as these are climbing activities that don´t use ropes, they should be practiced only to a height of 2.5m with good crash mats below and people to spot.
Abseiling can be done in a wheelchair if the facility permits and has the correct equipment. In order to incorporate wheel chairs, the facility must have a an angled slab on which to lower the wheelchair with a level surface and either walls on either side or a slightly concave shape in order to ensure that the wheelchair cannot slide off in any moment.
An abseil can also be done without a wheelchair although that there are two belay points and no friction points on the wall that the rope may rub.
There are also disabilities that we don´t often think of which are the deaf and blind. In climbing and abseiling communicate is vital but there are ways around this like the ingenious method of rope tugs which use this for communicating for the deaf. The blind can have a pre-established climbing route.
Extra support harnesses are also available for the added security of the climber.
The British Mountaineering Council holds an annual climbing competition where all climbers can compete! If you are interested in finding out more about climbing for all abilities, talk to a climbing venue near you!