Setting the Bar

Pioneering the adaptive climbing community

 An adaptive climber himself, Pete Davis heads Paradox Sports Curriculum, the two-fold clinic and manual program that sheds some light on the seemingly daunting task of incorporating a safe, functional, and sustainable adaptive sector of an existing or emerging outdoor sport community.

Through its Curriculum, Paradox Sports is “demystifying how to go about adaptive climbing,” says Davis, who was born without his right arm below the elbow and started climbing at age 12.

A first of its kind, the Adaptive Rock Climbing Manual, “sets an industry standard, which doesn’t yet exist,” says Davis, “We have this wide body of knowledge that’s allowing us to set the standards for adaptive climbing.”

Paradox has compiled years of expertise and partnered with the U.S. rock climbing certifying body, American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) to create the inaugural manual. Creating their own programs from the ground-up and accumulating direct feedback on equipment and techniques made Paradox Sports the choice organization to develop such a manual.

photo courtesy of Paradox Sports

Timmy O’Neill & Pete Davis photo courtesy of Paradox Sports

It even includes personal stories, triumphs, and failures that help adaptive climbers realize they are part of something that extends beyond their personal struggles.

Paradox is creating and distributing these resources, “so other adaptive people don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” explains Davis. The organization is pioneering the movement and acting as a resource and platform to “keep setting the bar higher,” he says.

Before the manual, Paradox Sports Curriculum began as a series of traveling clinics that create sustainable outdoor clubs with a focus on physical adaptation with paralysis, amputation, visual/hearing impairment, and neuromuscular disorders.

The Curriculum seeks to convert a one-time experience into a consistent activity and passion by training instructors at climbing gyms, schools, universities, and existing and emerging adaptive sports agencies how to start their own adaptive climbing programs.

The “teaching the teachers,” format is modeled after adaptive skiing. Much like the PSIA oversees adaptive skiing—certifying instructors in levels 1-3—Paradox plans to integrate adaptive climbing certification with universal standards overseen by the AMGA. Currently, the Curriculum includes an in-depth training clinic to instruct and augment the material in the manual, a custom equipment package, and speaker segment that raises awareness of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits that derive from adaptive adventures.

Sean O'Neill at Paradox Sports Curriculum photo courtesy of Paradox Sports

Sean O’Neill  photo courtesy of Paradox Sports

Their local efforts have manifested in the Front Range Adaptive Climbing Club, which meets three times each month at gyms in Boulder, Golden, and Thornton—ensuring an environment for adaptive climbers to form a community and to climb consistently.

“Universities seem to be one of the most appropriate ways to spread our curriculum,” notes Davis, who advocates for more inclusive, ADA-compliant campus activities. Paradox Sports Curriculum will hit campuses in Oregon, Washington, and Maryland in addition to Colorado this year and the Adaptive Rock Climbing Manual hits printers on May 15th.

 Learn more about Paradox Sports and its Curriculum and how you can bring it to your community. Read about Paradox Veterans and how Paradox climber, Sean O’Neill is defining his own normal through outdoor sports.

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