Okay, here’s a story that certainly made me stop whining about the little things that have been causing irritation in my life recently. It seems that 36-year old Phil Packer, a Major in the British Army who was injured in a rocket attack in February of 2008, and lost the use of his legs as result, has successfully scaled El Capitan in Yosemite.
Packer, who was climbing to raise funds for the Help For Heroes organization, began his epic assault on the 1800 foot rock face on June 6th and completed the task on June 10th. He was assisted by a team of very experienced climbers that included Andy Kirkpatrick, who served as the expedition leader, Paul Tattersall, Ian Parnell and Ben Pritchard.
Packer’s injuries were sustained while he was deployed to Iraq as part of the U.K.’s military police. The rocket attack caused an injury to his spine, and doctors told him that he would never walk again. Since that time, he has begun to walk, through the use of crutches, and became a hero in his home country when he began the London Marathon back in April. Over the course of the following two weeks, he covered just 2 miles a day, but eventually completed the entire course, and becoming an inspiration to many in the process. That was just the beginning however, as he already had designs on El Cap, perhaps the most famous big rock wall in the world.
On his website, PhilPacker.com, the Major writes about the experience in his blog and says that even though it has already been a week since he finished up the climb, what he has accomplished is still setting in. He also mentions that he is still resting and recovering a bit after three-and-a-half days on the wall and averaging less than 4 hours of sleep each night. Phil says that while he is very happy that he accomplished his goal, he can’t help but feel a bit sad that the climb is over, and the team will now go their separate ways. It sounds like they really bonded on this journey that began before they ever touched the rock.
What an inspiring story! This is one of the best things I’ve read in a long time, and I have nothing but respect for Major Packer. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more on this story, but if you’d like to find out a bit more background, check out this story over at Climbing.com, complete with videos as well.
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