“If I can connect with someone that might not be aware of what they’re capable of and push them towards trying something new, maybe even a little outside of their comfort zone, then putting myself out there in the world as a resource and a motivator is entirely worth it. One arm? One leg? Blind? In a wheelchair? Bring it on.”
Maureen Beck is part of a group of adaptive climbers who believe the sport could be mastered, and even taken to new levels, by disabled people, much like paracycling and paraskiing. Born with one hand, Beck tried rock climbing for the first time after a camp counselor told her she could skip it. Her love of the sport was instantaneous, but there was no guide for climbing with one hand. Unfazed, she decided to figure it out for herself through trial and error — one of her early adaptive climbing innovations even involved taping a metal ladle to her arm. Before long she was leading a crew of passionate adaptive climbers around the world, forging a path for a new generation.
After tackling some of the hardest climbs by a one-handed athlete and securing two world paraclimbing championships, Beck yearned to push still further outside of her comfort zone. So when legendary adaptive climber Jim Ewing asked her to join his attempt to make the first adaptive ascent of one of North America’s classic, most wild towers—the Lotus Flower Tower in Canada’s Cirque of the Unclimbables—she didn’t hesitate. On their month-long expedition they dealt with rough weather, sudden illness, and a food shortage, yet Beck found herself growing addicted again to the thrills and challenges of the sport.
With her trademark humor and wit, hear how this one-handed champion is reinventing rock climbing.
National Geographic Live is National Geographic’s touring series that brings to life the awe-inspiring stories of National Geographic Explorers and Speakers.Maureen’s engaging, one-of-a-kind “Improbable Ascent” presentation is part of National Geographic Live’s amazing collection of events happening throughout the United States and Canada. National Geographic’s broad roster of talent, including renowned photographers, scientists, authors, filmmakers, and adventurers, share their behind-the-scenes stories from the front lines of exploration alongside stunning imagery and gripping footage.For more information on National Geographic Live and other National Geographic events, please visit www.NatGeoLive.com.
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