Paraclimbing Edinburgh

edinb sit

In September I competed for the IFSC Paraclimbing Worldcup in Edinburgh (UK). The two qualification routes went well, but in the finals I fell from the third grip (the grip I’m sitting on in the picture). But I had a great time!


The paraclimbing cup was held at the same time as the ‘able-bodied’ worldcup so there was a large audience and there were a lot of famous climbers walking and climbing around. At some point I heard someone from the organisation, a volunteer who did the belaying during finals, say to a friend “it always makes me nervous when I have to belay one of the big guys.” – with that he probably meant one of the famous climbers – “I’m not going to ask for their autograph or anything, but what if such a big shot gets hurt because I belay him in the wrong way? I would never forgive myself.”

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With belaying comes responsibility


At the beginning of the climbing finals, the climbers who are going to compete go into isolation. A room in which the climbers remain separated from the rest of the climbing hall. This is to make sure that climbers have no previous knowledge about their route, and so have no advantage over each other (otherwise the first climber is clearly at a disadvantage). The finalists are called from the isolation one by one, and no climber is allowed to talk to other climbers who have completed their climbs.

The isolation in Edinburgh was great! For our warming-up there were hometrainers and rowing apparatuses, and we were even offered sports-massages. When I’m in the isolation I often find it difficult to focus on the match and not be distracted by everything that is going on around me. At such moments I always recite a poem that I like very much. It was written in 18-something by a guy who lost two of his legs to tuberculosis, but never gave up.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

[William Ernest Henley (1888)]


About fbenedictus

Philosopher of physics at Amsterdam University College and Utrecht University, managing editor for Foundations of Physics and international paraclimbing athlete
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