Lots of climbers summit El Capitan in less time, but until the Gimp Monkeys, there had never been an all-disabled ascent.
When I was in Colorado in April, I had the amazing opportunity to listen to Craig DeMartino, the lead monkey, speak about the events in his life that lead up to such a spectacular accomplishment. No doubt about it, his life has pushed him beyond his limits and then some. Rarely have I been present for such a riveting presentation. How would you feel if your leg fell off while suspended in mid-air high up on a cliff face?
Craig has been a climber all his life. His whole family lives to finesse their way up vertical rock, Craig most of all. One day Craig went on belay and despite all his experience, made a simple mistake that sent him plummeting 100 feet to the ground. He landed on both feet and shattered one leg. He acquired a neurological disorder on top of the bone breakage and oh, a few other problems any one of which would stop me in my tracks. He thought he would never climb again. Eventually he got a prosthetic leg. Then he climbed again. He couldn't stand not climbing. He was scared to keep climbing. He kept climbing.
People like Craig set the bar high and push through emotional and attitudinal as well as physical barriers to achieve what no one has conceived of achieving before, changing our societal concept of what is possible. Despite feeling terrified at the idea of pursuing a climb of significant magnitude, Craig could not seem to live with himself if he didn't try. Eventually he formed a team with Jarem Frye, another single leg amputee, and Pete Davis, who was born with one arm incomplete. Together, they created the first All-Disabled Ascent of El Cap, which they completed a year ago today. See it right here:
Amazing inspiring attitudes, right?