Brooklyn Boulders Foundation’s mission is to positively impact our environment, inner city youth, and persons with disabilities, through physical movement and creative expression.
The Adaptive Climbing Group‘s mission is to offer the chance for disabled climbers to learn techniques that adapt to their personal abilities strengthens resolve, keep fit, have fun, and help new climbers reach the top. . As a sponsored program of the Brooklyn Boulders Foundation, we have partnered with ACG to grow the adaptive climbing communities in Brooklyn, Boston, and Chicago.
BKBF X ACG are training and sending three competitors to the USA Adaptive Climbing National Championship in Kennesaw, Georgia on July 17th. To donate please visit: gofundme.com/acgnationals
A charismatic presence, it’s not surprising that Peter’s determination and genuinely courageous nature has carried him from his wheelchair to climbing walls. This is his first year climbing, and he’s already stepped up to compete.
How is training for the competition?
I’ve been trying to work up on a loose belay. It assists the climber to get up the wall and gain confidence, especially in the beginning. If I had a loose belay in the beginning, I wouldn’t be able to get up the wall, and I’d lack the confidence to go further. But now i’m trying to climb properly with the loose belay and it’s harder because I’m actually using my core muscles.
How has rock climbing helped in other areas of your life?
I realized I was pushing my wheelchair wrong– i never relied on my core before, I always relied on my arms and that’s why they’re pumped but I tired out so quickly. Sitting in a chair all day it’s all about posture. It’s all about working on your back muscles. I started getting pain in my back and I realized “Oh those are muscles i’m just growing that I haven’t had before”.
Are there certain things you work on during your training?
Basing– I never use my feet, but I forget they’re there. I’m so focused on using my arms, and my arm strength, and I’ll have my foot on the wall and I’ll forget it’s there, and I’ll fall. I’ll barn door across the gym.
How do you feel about your first competition?
I don’t care about winning, I just care about competing! I’m competing against Adam, and he’s been climbing for years. So… I mean, unless i have a really really good day or he has a really really bad day, I make peace with the fact that I’m not winning. But it’s not about winning for me.
Why do you love climbing?
Walei (another competitor) got me into climbing. I tried other sports but wasn’t into it. Everyone climbs differently, so you can’t compare it, especially between the difference in disabilities. I walk like Adam, but we have different strengths and weaknesses.
One thing I told volunteers when I first started climbing: I may get frustrated, I may look like I want to come down, but don’t let me down until I get up there. Unless I’m really exhausted because… for me it’s teaching my body to do something completely new. It’s like… learning how to walk again, and I don’t even walk that well on the ground, let alone on the wall. I like it because it’s a human jigsaw puzzle.
Do you do other exercises off the wall?
I do sit ups, I try to run the treadmill sometimes to build up stamina. For me to walk on the treadmill for twenty minutes builds up a lot of stamina. And then I use the stationary recumbent bicycle to keep the pressure off my knees. Climbing is good though, because it’s not about cardio anymore: it’s about building muscle.
Have you changed your diet?
I was good in the beginning. In about a year, I lost 20 pounds. It’s all about changing your diet, but I don’t want to. I usually eat cheese fries and Dr. Pepper.
Why do you continue to climb?
It’s something that will make me push myself. Lately, I’ve just been trying to get myself out of my comfort zone because these last two years I’ve been in a rut. I’m not gonna say I’m 100% confident, but if I live life safely, what’s the point? It’s boring.
On July 17th The Adaptive Climbing Group is headed to Kennesaw, GA for the USA Adaptive Climbing National Championship! With your support, BKBF and ACG can cover costs of the competition. Visit our GoFundMe page to donate.
Your donation will help support travel & hotel accommodations and registration fees for this year’s adaptive climbers to compete.