Up Kilimanjaro In A Wheelchair


Para-Olympic skier Chris Waddell will attempt something amazing in March of 2009. The 12-time medal winner, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since 1988, will attempt to go up Mt. Kilimanjaro in wheelchair, becoming the first person to do so. The goal is to climb the mountain unassisted, and summit on the anniversary of the loss of his ability to walk. The date will also mark half of Chris’ life on his legs and the other half in his wheelchair.

In preparation for his climb, Chris has launched his website, which has plenty of information about this amazing man. You’ll find a gallery of photos, info on his inspirational speaking engagements, and his personal blog where he discusses his training, preparation, and thoughts on the climb as it looms nearer.

I’m pretty amazed that Chris is making this attempt. Kili is no small feat for anyone, even in great shape. The trails are challenging and steep, and as you get higher, you encounter a lot of volcanic rock that makes for tough going when you’re on two feet, let alone in a wheel chair. And that’s all before you get to the snow and ice near the summit.

On the other hand, I’d never count this guy out. He’s clearly done great things and has not let the fact that he can’t walk stand in the way of him going after the things he wants in life. His athletic accomplishments alone are enough to make me admire the guy, and this just adds another layer to that. It’ll be fun to follow along in the spring, and I wish him the best of luck. I hope he makes it to the top and gets a chance to enjoy the African sunrise at the summit. Good luck Chris!

Thanks to the Goat Blog over at Backcountry.com for this one.

9 thoughts on “Up Kilimanjaro In A Wheelchair”

  1. coincidence…
    1 months ago, i just asked a french adventurer (also half paralysed, in a wheelchair) if he wanted to climb kilimanjaro end 2009 with me.
    i told him i’ve no clue if possible but i expected to use my harness to help him pulling him…no answer yet from him.
    But I’m longing to see this athlete doing it so it’ll mean my idea would be possible…

  2. I definitely think it’s possible, although it’ll be a challenge of course.

    I’m not sure which route you’re considering or which one that Chris is going to take, but I’d say definitely avoid the Machame Route. The Baranco Wall would be impossible for sure, and the volcanic rocks are going to be tough as well. Not sure what it’s like on the other routes exactly, but it wasn’t pretty on foot on Machame.

  3. Best double check the “first”.

    I’ve heard of two other wheelchair climbers who have “climbed” Kili.

    Wheelchair Bob knows them.

  4. Hmm… maybe that’s why he has the “Unassisted” moniker on his attempt. Perhaps the others have had help in some way?

  5. Wow, that is just amazing.
    Can’t imagine how it would feel to be sitting in a wheelchair …on top of Kilimanjaro!

    Hope he gets what he set out for

  6. Watch the training video on his site. It’s well done. The climb is excruciating. The downhill, on the other hand, may be very fun. Very impressive attempt.

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