Ever wanted to go climbing? If you have a serious disability this may sound impossible but in fact there are all sorts of innovative ways for people like you to get involved. Taking a holiday in an established climbing centre equipped for helping disabled visitors means that you can expect safe, respectful treatment, and you’ll be guaranteed an adventure.
Visiting a Climbing Centre
There are climbing centres that welcome disabled visitors across the UK, so you can enjoy a lot of choice in finding a location that appeals to you. If you want to try climbing a famous mountain abroad, special trips are available, but you will normally need quite a bit of climbing experience so that you can graduate to the point where you will be considered for these.
Some climbing centres have their own accommodation on site, with adapted rooms for disabled visitors. In other cases you may have to find your own accommodation nearby. This can be difficult because many climbing centres are in remote locations where there may be a shortage of suitable places to stay, so look into this before you confirm your booking.
Many disabled people are able to climb to an extent like anybody else, but if you have problems such as limited strength, limited reach or unreliable joints, you may need a bit of extra help in order to take on more exciting challenges. If you talk over your difficulties and limitations with climbing centre staff, they will be able to help you plan manageable routes and work out the support you need.
Special harnesses are available to give disabled climbers extra support – you should be able to try different ones to find out what’s comfortable for you. These systems mean you are less vulnerable to falling and it will be easier for you to take breaks, relying on your harness for support, when you find the going too hard. As a result you’ll be free to push your limits further.
Climbing for Wheelchair Users
Most climbing centres only work with people who can stand unaided, but there are some which can provide a service for those who find it hard to be active without wheelchairs. Special pulley systems are available so that you can sit in a wheelchair and use your own strength to haul yourself up a rock face. This is a great activity for people who have strong arm muscles from regular wheeling and want to take on a new challenge.
Even if you are unable to move your own wheelchair, it’s possible for you to be lifted up the rock face in it. You may not enjoy the same thrill of achievement but you can still enjoy reaching places that might once have seemed completely inaccessible, and taking in some stunning views.
Climbing with a Sensory Impairment
Because communication is important to safe climbing, there can be particular challenges for deaf climbers. There are, however, ways around this. You may not be able to lip read or sign when climbing, but a special code of rope tugs can enable you to keep in touch with climbing partners. The climbing centre will teach you this before you begin.
If you have a visual impairment you’ll find that the main form of assistance you need is with route planning, both before you set out and once you reach the rock face. You may also choose to use an extra support harness because you are more likely to have to retrace your movements across the rock, so the overall experience can be harder on your muscles. As a primarily tactile experience, however, climbing can be easy to engage with.
Climbing with an Autistic Spectrum Disability
Rock climbing is highly recommended for children with autistic spectrum disabilities because it can help to improve muscle tone and motor skills as well as making it easier to relate to working as part of a team. It’s also fun for adults, of course, and regular climbing trips can help if you have balance issues in day to day life.
Most UK climbing centre staff have excellent training when it comes to working with people who have autism or Asperger’s syndrome. They can help you plan your activities to avoid stress and they can offer you a varied choice of equipment so you can work around any special concerns. This means that you should be able to enjoy a problem free climbing experience and a wonderful holiday.