Prosthetics, wheelchairs, microphones and chalk dust filled Vertical Adventures in Columbus, Ohio, the first weekend in April. Nearly 100 athletes showed up, all with their game faces on and ready to compete for a top spot on the USA Adaptive Team. Athlete categories included Neurological or Physical Disability, Visual Impairment, Upper Extremity Amputee, Lower Extremity Amputee, Seated and Youth.
“The energy in the room was phenomenal. We’ve never had as many athletes or spectators as we had this year,” said Maureen Beck, six-time winner of the Upper Extremity Amputee category. “Most of all, I’m looking forward to being a part of our best team yet as we head to France in July for the World Championships.”
The two-day event—one day of competition and one day of additional community initiatives—included vendors and two guest speakers, the pro climber Kai Lightner and longtime coach and competitor Shane Messer. On Saturday, the competitors had three hours to redpoint three routes for their category. They could give each route as many tries as they wanted.
“This was the first year that two of the three routes were modeled after the style of competition routes that athletes will see at the IFSC World Championship,” said Kareemah Batts, the founder of the Adaptive Climbing Group. Batts added that the setting was more creative and challenging than that of past years. For the future, participants hope the USAC categorization at these events will match those at IFSC adaptive events, where several divisions have subsets. For example, at IFSC competitions the Visually Impaired category is broken into three subsets according to degree of blindness. This level of categorization in U.S. adaptive climbing will only be possible with continued growth in the number of competitors.
That is definitely likely: already, since the first USA Adaptive Nationals in 2014, the number of competitors has tripled. Adding analogous categories to the IFSC event is just one of the changes U.S. athletes want to bring to this side of the pond. They also want to expand Adaptive Nationals from a one- to two-day competition. “We have the best problems to solve going forward now,” said Beck. “We have too many people for our current format.”
Neurological or Physical Disability
Upper Extremity Amputee
|1. Mor Sapir|
2. Daniel Hill
3. Brian Zarzuela
Lower Extremity Amputee
|1. Corey Ramos|
2. Kyle Long
3. Ronnie Dickson