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Author Topic: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro  (Read 29286 times)

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Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« on: Sep 5 2002, 19:02 »

North Vancouver resident aided by five porters as he attains world record
 
Erin Gregg  
Vancouver Sun

Saturday, August 31, 2002
Special to the Vancouver Sun
Jim Milina relaxes on the shores of Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island. He completed a five-day climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, becoming the first person in a wheelchair to make the climb.
 
 
Jim Milina sat in the bright sun at the saddle of Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro at an altitude of 42,672 metres and wept.

"It was then I realized we'd done it," he said. "It was absolutely amazing. We were on top of the world."

Earlier this month, Milina, a North Vancouver resident, became the first person in the world to climb over the peak from its north to south side in a wheelchair, and set a world record for the highest altitude attained by a quadriplegic.

"Hopefully it inspires people to do their best, at whatever they chose to do," Milina said from Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island, where he was vacationing after the climb.

"You only go around this world once. For me, I go around it in a chair. Just because I'm in a chair, it doesn't mean I can't go to Africa and it doesn't mean I can't climb a mountain."

Growing up, Milina was an athlete, involved in football, soccer, and baseball, but he said his passion was for freestyle skiing, in which he became B.C.'s provincial champion at the age of 17. In 1981, Milina was forced to give up the sport when, at 18, a skiing accident left him quadriplegic.

"Living life in a wheelchair is obviously different," Milina said.
"You learn to accept things that are out of your reach. For me, being in the outdoors, and skiing on top of mountains and the wilderness, and hiking were all things that were no longer part of my world."

But Milina's attitude changed when his long-time friend and avid mountain climber, Erik Bjarnason, approached him with a proposal.
"Erik said he couldn't imagine what life would be like if he suffered permanent spinal damage and couldn't walk. He was adamant that there was a way for him to take me mountain climbing. I didn't believe what he was telling me, because I can't mountain climb very easily -- or at all."

With the help of nine dedicated friends (including Milina's fiancee and brother), five porters, and a modified version of the TrailRider wheelchair, originally conceived by Vancouver councillor Sam Sullivan, which can be lifted or rolled through extreme terrain, Milina was able to climb over the world's largest freestanding mountain. But as he attests, it was no easy task.

"The paths are certainly not meant for wheelchairs," he said.
"It's extreme. Climbing Kilimanjaro is an effort for an able bodied person, let alone trying to move a 200-pound package of man and chair as well."

That's why Milina's Climbing Over Restriction and Disability team hired five porters from Tanzania to help with the climb. Over the course of five days, the porters lifted, hoisted, and pulled Milina up the mountain in his chair at a steady pace that often had him feeling anxious.

"At one point, we went over a rock, and down the other side of this boulder, and the chair was almost vertical, [overlooking] more boulders. My whole body was suspended by the harnesses. I was holding the hand grips, and trying to push myself back into the chair. I remember watching [the porters'] knuckles on the front handles and thinking, 'Just don't slip.' If I was going to be dropped, it would be six or eight feet, face first into volcanic rock."

Now that the team has succeeded in its quest on Kilimanjaro, Milina said he would like to relive the experience by writing a book about the climb.

"I'm glad I did it, but I don't need to do it again," he said.
© Copyright  2002 Vancouver Sun
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Re:Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #1 on: Sep 5 2002, 19:04 »

Well, is this still climbing?
I feel mixed emotions: I applaud him for his determination and achievement, but criticize for using porters to haul someone up a mountain 'that is not meant for wheelchairs'.

Ofcourse there are no wheelchairtracks up Kilimanjaro, just as there are no escalators.

What do you think?

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brad zdanivsky

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Re:Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #2 on: Apr 13 2004, 00:48 »

Well, is this still climbing?
I feel mixed emotions: I applaud him for his determination and achievement, but criticize for using porters to haul someone up a mountain 'that is not meant for wheelchairs'.
What do you think?

Well, I know Jim, and I am also in a chair…

Dude, give your head a shake. Do you understand the stress that is put on a person with a spinal cord injury, and I mean every old day? When you take quads anywhere off road its challenging. Now add altitude, logistics and discomfort.

Yes I applaud his courage, and yes I think he is climbing.

Oh, and I actually climb rocks too. (with lots of help)


http://verticalchallenge.org

brad
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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #3 on: Apr 13 2004, 01:12 »

Hi Brad,
welcome on the forum. If you register you can post more and we know for sure it's you  ;)
I do not think I can/will ever understand the stress you are talking about without experiencing itself, so explain it to us.
My head is shaken enough  8) and know that altitude, logistics, discomfort are painful enough for people moving around without a chair. (Not even mentioning money...)

That's why I said I applaud the determination. But the question was, is this still climbing?
Quote
That's why Milina's Climbing Over Restriction and Disability team hired five porters from Tanzania to help with the climb. Over the course of five days, the porters lifted, hoisted, and pulled Milina up the mountain in his chair at a steady pace that often had him feeling anxious.

In my book, anyone who get's carried/pulled or hoisted up a mountain does not climb it. Chair or no chair. It's like taking a car for the steep bits when cycling the tour de france...

Ps: I treid the link to your video on your page movie_bz.html but it opened in a 2 pixel wide moviewindow, might want to change that.
Do keep us posted, as I am always interested in people who step over other people's expectations.
 O0
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brad zdanivsky

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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #4 on: Apr 13 2004, 09:57 »

Quote
In my book, anyone who get's carried/pulled or hoisted up a mountain does not climb it. Chair or no chair. It's like taking a car for the steep bits when cycling the tour de france...

Hummm….

I hope I am “climbing”? What you think?

Dude, count the fat, rich guys getting/guided up routes… it happens daily I am sure.

For the brave folks doing more with less, we need to relax these rules in your book. I do take your point, I know most climbers say I’m getting hauled, but I think I’m earning the view.

Quads don’t have any lung power, and if not careful our blood pressure can spike and kill us!

Please be careful about judging people that don’t fit in your little box.


Oh, video… just save it to your disk, can’t fix it just now. You are on a Mac?

Respectfully
Quad on the wall
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brad zdanivsky

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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #5 on: Apr 13 2004, 10:05 »

Dude, count the fat, rich guys getting/guided up routes… it happens daily I am sure.

sorry... mean to say "Guided/Pulled"

bz
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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #6 on: Apr 13 2004, 12:28 »

Well, sorry if I offended you, but that's my opinion. My box is much wider than you might think...
I have watched your video after saving it to disk and I am impressed, I think on that bit you are definately climbing! But what if you were hauled all the way to the top by someone else, is that still climbing? Or is that getting hauled to the top?

Guiding is something completely different, it's about knowledge and safety, not about physically getting to altitude. When climbing you need your partners a lot for mutual help, so it's not that black and white at all. Sometimes you even need to shortroped and carried/dragged down for your own security. But to hire 5 people to carry you up a mountain is way behind the line for me and yes, I agree -> that includes rich 'able' people getting hauled up the mountain.
If it's different for you, that's ok, that's why this is an open forum.

What are your next plans to climb?
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brad zdanivsky

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doing more with less...........
« Reply #7 on: Apr 14 2004, 09:27 »

Well, sorry if I offended you, but that's my opinion. My box is much wider than you might think...
I have watched your video after saving it to disk and I am impressed, I think on that bit you are definately climbing! But what if you were hauled all the way to the top by someone else, is that still climbing? Or is that getting hauled to the top?
Hi,

No apology was requested, or required. As you said, this is an open forum. Here are my thoughts.

What I want, however, is to maybe expand on what we all call “climbing.” I have climbed as a young able bodied guy, lead freaky pitches, taken big falls, hiked -- lots-- and always thought about doing the bigger routers faster and in good style. Plus, I personally have jumped off boulders to generate enough tension on top ropes to get nameless climbers up routes, and then have them say, “I just climbed a 12A”! …and that is just small town Canada.

You say that on the peaks guides are there for safety.. well they do more than that, they carry your stuff, cook your food and help make decisions for you. Climbing is a small industry, and if you are fighting for Sponsors, well… you know what happens. You never pulled on gear? You never jug fixed lines set by “guides”?

My point is: Purity of assent is a huge grey area, not just, “did he get carried”? Yes or No.

Now climbing to me is about accepting risk based on boldness and expertise. The boldness starts with the idea. Never been tried this way, or Never by someone with my disability. That takes grit, and that’s what I held onto when I broke my neck. It is not easy to pull oneself together and say, I’m going to do it. Especially when you know full well that the journey will be a long and fraught with risk. 

There is a lot of room for climbers with disabilities out there. Some of them just might do it faster or in better style than “fat rich guys” on a really expensive vacation. 

Final note, In all honesty, when I read about Jim, I said the same thing you did! I remember thinking about how worried I was about climbers saying I just get pulled up the wall. Watch the other video were my buddy is upside down pulling! Yea, see I’m cheating aren’t I? Well, we fixed that problem, but the point is that each summer we double our performance. As the gear gets better and I get stronger we set our goals higher and higher… and we are having a blast doing it! That’s the true measure, are you pushing your limits? Are you getting huge rewards for the efforts? Needless to say I got over Jim’s style of ascent. Jim’s story helped me put things in perspective, and yes, I *still* think he is a climber.

Isn’t climbing about more than just,  "one foot in front of the other, forever?" 

---------------------------------------------------------
You can follow our progress on the website:
http://verticalchallenge.org
--------------------------------------------------------

with humility,
Bradz

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Re: doing more with less...........
« Reply #8 on: Apr 14 2004, 14:37 »

You say that on the peaks guides are there for safety.. well they do more than that, they carry your stuff, cook your food and help make decisions for you. Climbing is a small industry, and if you are fighting for Sponsors, well… you know what happens. You never pulled on gear? You never jug fixed lines set by “guides”?

My point is: Purity of assent is a huge grey area, not just, “did he get carried”? Yes or No.

Yes. I agree, I have guided climbs and have done all of the above and more for clients. Some of them would not have come so far as they got without those actions. To me there is a white area where it is obvious someone climbed: solo ascents for example. Then a huge grey area with all kinds of variations: (no)guiding, (no)porters, (no) fixed lines etc.
But there is also a black area to me where it is clear that someone did not climb, like getting hauled up Mt Everest in 1996 or getting carried up Kilimanjaro.

Quote
There is a lot of room for climbers with disabilities out there. Some of them just might do it faster or in better style than “fat rich guys” on a really expensive vacation. 
I really encourage 'disabled' climbers to keep doing what they love and shatter expectations. But I am more impressed with Jim if he pulls himself up one meter than using porters to carry him up. Frankly although it gives him needed publicity I think it also downgrades disabled climbers as people think that they always get carried everywhere.
Besides I do not like the message this sends out about Kilimanjaro and porters. Kilimanjaro is not a walk in the park (although literally it is  8)), nor are porters available to physically carry people up. Kilimanjaro does not need more 'able' persons that are 'disabled' hikers/climbers if you catch my drift. If Jim can get carried, why shouldn't a rich lazy dude who could walk perfectly fine if he tried not do the same and pay off some porters?
Quote
Needless to say I got over Jim’s style of ascent. Jim’s story helped me put things in perspective, and yes, I *still* think he is a climber. Isn’t climbing about more than just,  "one foot in front of the other, forever?" 

Being a climber and climbing are 2 different things. I take your word that Jim is an excellent climber, but he has not shown it to me with his Kili ascent, that's all. I call myself a climber, but the moment I take the cable car on a mountain I am not climbing that specific mountain at that moment.

Purity of ascent is an interesting concept, the debate is comparable with the definition of a solo alpine ascent (see my thoughts about that in this thread).
The grey, debatable area is enourmous. There are grounds to argue that only a first solo ascent of new route/mountain with no route description is pure. But then again, should you not start at sealevel and carry all your needed food and gear yourself? When you use a mule on Aconcagua to get your food at basecamp and climb up yourself, is that pure? If a guide gives you directions and tips which might make getting out alive easier, is that pure?
Climbing is both a teamsport as well as a highly individual one. Fortunately most of the climbs have no time limit/speedgoal, in the end you are fighting against yourself.
« Last Edit: Apr 14 2004, 14:41 by 7summits »
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Jim Milina

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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #9 on: Apr 16 2004, 09:37 »

Well I didn't know there was all this talk going on about *me*.

I *guess* my position is that it may not fit a traditional definition of 'climbing' but my life and lifestyle do not conform to ever be included as such.  Therefore, because I am disabled, and a quadriplegic... it it impossible for me to 'climb' anything?

I don't consider myself a 'climber', I consider myself an individual that had the courage, and stamina, and resilience to not only make it to 14,500ft and the Saddle of Kilimanjaro... but also go, and do something no one else has ever done before. 

And in a general statement about life... mine is vastly different from most who read this.  Being a quadriplegic means that your life is limited, by default, and there's nothing you can do about it.  I could listen to those who said making it up Kili was impossible, and I could also listen to those who split hairs by saying I did not technically 'climb' the mountain.  I could *choose* to accept those additional limitations on my already limited lifestyle but... I don't

'Your mind is like a parachute... it only works when it's open.'

...jim
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MoT

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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #10 on: Apr 16 2004, 18:48 »

Well, the way I see it, it looks like a major team effort and success. Jim may not have clawed his way up the mountain but he and the group of aides showed great will and determination. It's hard enough for a fit and able bodied person to slog up that hill (I've been there and it was hell) but the physique and physical stamina of a chair bound person are markedly different from a non-chair bound person.

As Jim says himself he made it as far as the Saddle - in fairness going up the scree above that would be unbelieveably difficult.

I think congrats are in order as Jim has broken the mould and showed great determination to share a fantastic experience So what if it was a team effort? If you think back to any firsts on any major peaks - they often put one or two individuals on top after a mammoth TEAM effort, even Hillary and Tenzing had the benefit of such. I doubt they'd have climbed everest alone...

Just my 2 cents
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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #11 on: Apr 16 2004, 20:44 »

Hey Jim, thanks for joining and letting us see your point of view.
MoT, thanks for your input.

Do not get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for what you are doing, which is not climbing, but exceeding expectations. I like to do that myself as well as often as possible...

Guess what bothered me was the wording of the article:
Quote
Jim Milina relaxes on the shores of Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island. He completed a five-day climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, becoming the first person in a wheelchair to make the climb.
This simply is not true, just as if I would drive the Tour de France in a car and then claim the cycling speed record for it.
If 'climb' was replaced with 'struggle', 'Adventure' or 'fight' or 'oddyssey' or whatever it would seem more respectful for you, Kilimanjaro, the porters and others. Climbing is a teamsport in many ways but teamsport means helping eachother, not paying for onesided help. Nothing wrong with that in itself as it is the basis for all guided climbs, but it is not the essence of climbing as a team sport.

But again, that is my view and I do not think our views are that different. Keep us posted about your next adventure.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
Harry
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brad zdanivsky

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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #12 on: Apr 25 2004, 03:46 »

Harry....

This is a shot in the dark…

Maybe your somewhat elitist attitude stems from fear of the disabled climbers cutting into your sponsorship, cuz… we generally do get better press. In terms of human interest stories, well … I guess we are more interesting than all the countless other climbers looking for funds/sponsors. Something about doing more with less, or accepting more risk due to less ability? I am not sure.

But, “Purity of Assent” is always been grey area, always will. As an able bodied guy at 17 years old, I too looked at guys Like Mark Wellman and said, “good on him, but he is just juggin’ fixed lines”. After breaking my neck I thought I wish I could at least pull my own weight! So, I do my best instead, and use counterweight. I pull as hard as can, I get stronger and the rig gets lighter. Maybe one day I'll pull 100% of my weight.

Erik did all seven blind, and gets the best sponsors/support because of his great story. But, he gets lots of help, and yea, I bet he did not lead all the pitches on El Cap… but he has more drive than any other climber I have met.

One thing will always be true: “the best climber is the one having the most fun.” Alex Lowe.


You think?

Bradz

Check out:

http://touchthetop.com

http://www.nolimitstahoe.com/

http://www.partanimal.com

or:

http://verticalchallenge.org
« Last Edit: Apr 25 2004, 15:26 by 7summits »
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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #13 on: Apr 25 2004, 16:18 »

Harry....

This is a shot in the dark…

Maybe your somewhat elitist attitude stems from fear of the disabled climbers cutting into your sponsorship, cuz… we generally do get better press. In terms of human interest stories, well … I guess we are more interesting than all the countless other climbers looking for funds/sponsors. Something about doing more with less, or accepting more risk due to less ability? I am not sure.
Hi Brad,

I refuse to be put in an elitist corner or in seperating abled climbers from the rest as you are doing.

Please explain to what the difference is between getting portered (literally) up Kilimanjaro with the cycling analogy I mentioned before. If a guy without legs would drive up all he hills in France, but down hill on a bike using brakes only he would have my respect for doing what he did, but he would not have cycled the Tour de France. Nothing elitist about it, please tell me what the difference is.

Being called 'disabled' in my view is because of literally not being able to do everything 'abled' people can. But 'abled' people in general do not do what they could, so a strong willed diabled person can achieve much more goals than a lazy able person.
With regards to pianoplaying I am an disabled person as I do not have the motoric ability (and skills) to do it (never have played). But if I were to embark on a playing contest and have someone next to me do everything for me and have us win the contest, would that mean I am a piano player beacuse we had a team effort?
No, but I can show the piano players a lot of other things they cannot do. Also would it make the judges of the contest elitist for not granting me a prize?

If you read my forum, you will see I have always put news about special climbs up front. I have discussed Erik's climbs, book and DVD and have sent those out on my mailinglist.
I receive dozens of news clippings about yet another warmhearted guy or girl climbing Kilimanjaro to raise money for a worthy cause, but I do not post all of them unless it is very different like Jim's story above.

So do not call me elitist as it takes a lot of my unpaid time to run this free site, giving attention to climbers like Erik, yourself and Jim and try to climb something in between as well. One of the reasons for this site is to show that climbing is not just for the rich and extremists, but that everybody can do a lot if they put their heart to it.

If we do not agree about the definition of climbing Kilimanjaro, no problem. I never made any negative statements about your, Jim's or any disabled climber persistence nor do I underestimate the extreme difficulties you have to overcome to do what you did and are doing.

About the sponsoring: no I do not fear it as I know it is true. It has been joked a lot that the only way to climb Everest sponsored nowadays you have to be blind & one armed/legged &  have a terminal disease, be a minority and climb for charity.  :P
But jokes aside, even though it might be easier for you to secure sponsoring, it is still a pain to do it I am sure. I have so many advantages in life in general not being disabled, it seems only fair that you can get easier access to funding. I know how marketing works and I would also sponsor someone who does a one of a kind thing before a 'middle of the road thing'. So no fear there, just reality  8)

I agree with all of the rest of your post by the way, so I think we are climbing in the same direction here. ;)
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brad zdanivsky

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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #14 on: May 28 2004, 03:25 »

here is a guy who agrees with you:

http://www.wheelchairjunkie.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/008878.html

food for thought.

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trunl

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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #15 on: May 28 2004, 06:19 »

to brad: i share the same feelings as harry but that does not make me an elitist of some kind. i am certainly not afraid of quad's taking up all the sponsorship. theres plenty out there.  however, my feelings still stand. watching as no energy is put into it just isnt climbing. my question is: how much energy did jim actually put into the 'climb.' if the answer is 'he struggled as if his life depended on it,' then he made the climb. but if the answer is 'he laid back and took in the view.' he did not climb. but this answer may/will not suit everyone. so he just has to decide for himself: did i climb mt. kilimanjaro.

this was in no way intended to offend any wheelchair-bound people; as it is mainly them saying jim made the climb.

to harry: he didnt exactly call you an elitist. he said 'shot in the dark.'

trunl
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bradsky

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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #16 on: May 28 2004, 08:31 »

trunl... You win a prize….

Jim climbed it, and it was no joy ride. Sure he did not propel himself, but he accepted a lot of risk and kept his head while dealing with the rigors.

Look:

As a quad, at sea level not exerting yourself … it can still be hard just to get through a day. Blood pressure changes, dizziness and fatigue is common. Now add fumbling to get this out of the fridge, no hand strength, and mobility problems galore. Add managing staff that help you, and all that entails.

Yikes, some days I can just be functional enough to re-heat my coffee in the microwave and talk on the phone.

I talk with some of the climbers with disabilities out there. Guys like *Harry* would still refer to as “climbers”, and what did we discuss?

Well, we - two guys with Spinal Cord Injuries – commented on how much easier Warren – a double leg amputee - had it because he could “piss and s**t normally”. See, if it is hard for an able-bodied guy to dump on route, think about a quad. Quads can take two hours on the crapper with all kinds of unspeakable things on. Now add a tube into your bladder, and oh, guess what, any small detail can throw a quad into shock.

See:

http://www.scisexualhealth.com/autodysref.html

Anyway, the fact that quads are starting to be able to take part in the mountains and that culture… well it is not easy breaking new ground.

So, good points made by all, hope it stirred up some new thoughts/ideas.

bradz

route to the top for 2004!

http://www.verticalchallenge.org/news.htm




... and don't worry about offending people in wheelchairs. Generally we are more annoyed by the discomfort of others as they try soo hard to be PQ. Treat us no better, no worse. Why even make the distinction?
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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #17 on: May 28 2004, 14:15 »

Jim climbed it, and it was no joy ride. Sure he did not propel himself, but he accepted a lot of risk and kept his head while dealing with the rigors.

(...)
... and don't worry about offending people in wheelchairs. Generally we are more annoyed by the discomfort of others as they try soo hard to be PQ. Treat us no better, no worse. Why even make the distinction?


Hi Brad & Trunl, thanks for your input.

The 2 comments above do not match in my opinion. I agree with the latter. But this also means that for me anyone, quad or not, who gets carried up (parts of) Kilimanjaro or any other mountain did not climb that mountain. That does NOT and (I never said that!) mean that that person is not a climber, only that he did not climb that particular mountain on that day.
Would you consider me having climbed Kilimanjaro if I had been carried up the same parts as Jim had?

Anyway, discussion is good, also on the other website you mentioned. And that new climb of yours looks like someting I would never get up, so good luck with it!
« Last Edit: May 28 2004, 17:08 by 7summits »
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"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

brad

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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #18 on: Oct 2 2005, 01:34 »

http://www.verticalchallenge.org/timeline/2005/media.php

Well, we climbed it in 14 hours. Anyone want to take shots at mje for chopping off the summit?

bz
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Re: Quadriplegic "climbs" over Kilimanjaro
« Reply #19 on: Oct 2 2005, 07:01 »

Well, we climbed it in 14 hours. Anyone want to take shots at mje for chopping off the summit?

Hi Brad,

congrats, but what is 'it'? What climb was this? It looks impressive, but I have no idea where or what it is!
Please enlighten us  8)

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"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche
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