Recently we sat with Maureen Beck, aka "Mo" Beck, for a conversation to help bring awareness to adaptive climbing and cut through any confusion that may be out there regarding the sport. It’s a tight-knit community that is incredibly welcoming. We’re thrilled to have Mo on the team and happy to be able to help people of all abilities get on the wall faster with TRUBLUE Auto Belays.
What is adaptive rock climbing?
Adaptive climbing is when anyone who has a physical disability goes rock climbing. That’s it! I bet everyone reading this actually knows someone who is or can be an adaptive climber.
What is the difference between paraclimbing and adaptive climbing, or are they the same?
Adaptive climbing is as above while, Paraclimbing is the sport of adaptive climbers competing against each other.
Does adaptive climbing require different equipment?
Sometimes, but unlike other adaptive sports, there are often situations where no special equipment is needed whatsoever, which can be quite freeing. One of my friends uses a wheelchair or crutches to get around, but leaves them behind to rock climb. The only special equipment I use isn’t really that special, it’s just tape for my stump. There can be special prosthetics for climbing, as well as unique harnesses and rigging systems for wheelchair users to try out — though some of the strongest wheelchair users just campus!
Are there training techniques that are unique to adaptive climbing or do you have any training advice for adaptive climbing?
When you look at what a traditional training plan is for able bodied climbers, it can seem overwhelming or impossible to do. For example, I can’t hangboard or campus, and those are two pretty standard climbing training tools. That said, there are other methods, like doing reps on an auto belay, that have helped me become a better climber (and I bet they can help you too!).
What is your favorite training tool for rock climbing?
A plan. Whether it’s one that you write yourself or one that a coach develops for you, you need to have intent behind a training cycle in order to maximize the return on your time invested.
How do you use TRUBLUE Auto Belays when training for rock climbing?
I climb a LOT to stay in top form. Because I’m so busy with other aspects of my life (career, dogs, other hobbies) I tend to have to fit in a gym session whenever I can, partner on hand or not. Especially after a two month lock down where gyms were closed and climbing outside was strongly discouraged, coming back HURT – but running laps at my gym (Evo Louisville) on auto belays helped whip me into good shape pretty quickly. Even swapping laps with a buddy, one of us could fully recover while the other climbed.
Do you find that indoor climbing translates well to outdoor rock climbing projects?
I find that indoor climbing can do wonders for my endurance as well as overall strength. The difference really comes down to the movement — if I spend too much time in the gym training for a comp, I forget how to move on real rock, and vice versa.
What fears did you have to overcome as an adaptive rock climber, if any?
Climbing can be an intimidating sport to get involved in, let alone if you also have a disability. When I started climbing, it was before there was really an internet that I could google how to do it or find people like me that were climbing. As far as I knew, I was all alone. Overtime though as the sport has grown, so too has the adaptive climbing community. And, I hope that by putting myself out there now, others won’t hesitant to try climbing because they feel alone.
What rock climbing achievement are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of summiting the Lotus Flower Tower in 2018. It was a new style of climbing to me, and quite scary with bad weather and a sick partner. I wanted to turn around several times — probably should have, in fact! But we pressed on and ended up summiting. I learned a lot about toughing it out if you’re scared just because you’re out of your comfort zone.
Do you plan to continue competing at rock climbing events like the USA Paraclimbing Championships?
Had it not been cancelled due to the pandemic, I was thinking that the 2020 National Championships might be my last so I could focus more on outdoor and expedition objectives. Now that my last nationals is pushed to 2021, which also happens to be a world championship year... we’ll see!