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Photo courtesy of Becky Lindstrom.

Paradox Sports is Making Climbing Accessible for Everyone

Climbers with disabilities are celebrating their talent with the help of this local nonprofit.

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The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo are steadily approaching, and even sooner are the 2019 Climbing World Championships—the highest level of competition put on by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC). Each year, professional climbers grab their chalk and harnesses and gather to show off their skills on the world stage—in sport, speed, and bouldering comps. Coincidentally, Tokyo 2020 marks the first year climbing will be included in the Olympic Games as a sport, and the climbing community, for good reason, is excited. However, there is one group of climbers who are being shifted out of the spotlight: paraclimbers. For the first time since 2012, the Paraclimbing World Championships will not occur with the traditional World Championships.

Due to a scheduling conflict, the IFSC Paraclimbing World Championships will now be held in a different city in Japan and on a separate week than the World Championships, a decision made by an IFSC planning assembly. The scheduling error caused an uproar in the climbing community and on social media, eliciting articles about the lack of inclusiveness from several big name news outlets like Rock and Ice and Gripped magazine, and a petition from paraclimber and five-time national title winner Maureen Beck that garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

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While paraclimbing may have been sidestepped by the IFSC, members and supporters of the paraclimbing community are staying as strong and as positive as ever. Paradox Sports, a nonprofit based in the Denver area, has been focused on providing adaptive climbing clinics and opportunities to disabled athletes since 2007, and is a major support system for local para-athletes. Paradox Sports focuses on three things: providing adaptive climbing initiative (ACI) courses to people with disabilities, hosting monthly climbing clubs to gather the community together and provide support to new members, and hosting annual climbing trips to allow climbers to gain real outdoor climbing experience in a positive learning environment.

The organization’s clubs—hosted at climbing gyms between Boulder and Golden—have given adaptive climbing access to over 490 participants in the past six years. In 2015, they also published the first ever adaptive climbing manual. And while members rave about the organization’s five annual climbing trips (which run the gamut from sport to ice and mixed climbing, and take paraclimbers to locations like Shelf Road in Southern Colorado and Yosemite National Park in California), sometimes the most fun events are at home in Boulder, like their annual flagship fundraiser Base Camp Breakfast sponsored by Eldorado Climbing Walls, and vertical climbing challenge campaign The Paradox Mile. The Paradox team consists of professional climbing guides, lawyers, teachers, veterans, and climbing ambassadors like Maureen “Mo” Beck, Chad Jukes, and Jess Sporte.

People looking to get involved are welcome to contact the organization to volunteer at any of their events, or even better, volunteer at a local competition at one of their partnering gyms, Movement Climbing + Fitness or Earth Treks.

Don’t miss: Movement’s Cookie Jar Competition, April 13, 4-9 p.m.

Movement Climbing + Fitness Gym’s Cookie Jar Competition is an evening of competitive climbing, fundraising, and entertainment. This year Movement has chosen Paradox Sports as their beneficiary of the event in hopes of raising money and awareness for adaptive climbing. Come celebrate these climbers’ unstoppable human spirit that persists in spite of any obstacle, and cheer on your favorite local climbers. The night will feature the rock climbing competition, a silent auction with items from FrictionLabs, Black Diamond and The North Face, a presentation from Paradox Ambassador Chad Jukes, and free tacos from Verde Boulder and beer from Upslope Brewing. Tickets: $10-$15

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