July 2011, the first Paraclimbing World Championship is included in the program of the Climbing World Championship actually in progress at Arco (It). This new event gathers for the first time ever disabled climbers form 15 countries for the world champion title. The climbers are split up in different categories depending on their level of disability.
- blind and reduced vision (three categories depending on level of vision)
- amputee – leg
- amputee – arm
- physical disability (paralysis or other forms, both arthritis and neurological).
Since many years Petzl supports Philippe Ribière.
He is now a full time member of the Petzl Team and organizes each year climbing events for disabled climbers. Philippe has been training hard in the previous months, specifically for this first event. Before he jumped on the holds of the first day of competition, Philippe took time to explain how he's seen the evolution of climbing competition for disabled persons.
Paraclimbing…finally part of the international competition scene.
In 2001 as i was invited for a demo during the French Championship, i was trying to dust off the negative image of being disabled and seriously pushing for the official creation of disabled categories in climbing on national and international level. I started off on this project with Yves Lebissonnais (actual technical advisor of French Handisport Federation) and my motivation was strong. I was hoping that things would move fast being also invited the year after for demo during the European Championships in Chamonix. Daring to find support for my project i managed to have an appointment with Laurent de la Fouchardiere (at that time team manager for Petzl), the encounter ended magically with the words "Listen guy, you're invited to the team meeting next week in Ailefroide, and by the way welcome".
I remember three months later i was on the plane with the whole team on our way to the Petzl RocTrip in the Gunks (USA) for a dream trip. I was so proud to be part of this adventure, even though the manager got a few more grey hair as i was held for interrogation during several hours by the custom officers who thought maybe i was a terrorist !!! This trip was the opportunity for me to meet the US Climbers, i clearly showed that i wasn't here to carry the ropes !!! And the support they offered me as i was crimping on the sharp rock was the warmest ever. This proved me that disability isn't really a barrier, it can be a force.
Back in France,
I decided to create a special event for disabled climbers, the goal was to bring together disabled and non disabled climbers around the passion of climbing. Non disabled were asked to climb blinded, or with a tied leg/arm. Our global message is that disability shouldn't keep us from being happy, trying to live our dreams and have passion.
In 2009 I launched another crazy idea :
the evolution tour, an 18 month road trip around all europe, to check by myself the conditions for disabled people, meet other climbers and give lectures to share my vision and enthusiasm with them. As usual Petzl supported me at the best level, and offered me the traveling solutions : the van !!! In the past my difference as a climber scared me, slowed me down every day, was hurting me. By placing trust in me the company gave me the recognition i needed to step up and move forward. Now at the first ever Paraclimbing world championship i'm so proud of being involved and represent. I'll will be so happy to lace up my shoes, tie a rope to my harness and give my best on the wall. I have dreamed so much of this day.
I just want to thank all my friends, all the climbers that encourage me and of course my sponsors for their support.
PARACLIMBING is born.
He we go now and I will proudly lace up my climbing boots and tie in to give my best. I'm proud to write this down, that i can represent, in sport climbing, my dream is coming true.
Thanks to my friends, to the cheering climbers and my sponsors for their valuable support.
First reward : bronze medal in speed
On the first day of competition Philippe obtains the Bronze medal in speed in "physical disability" category. The next day he finishes 5th in lead climbing. A huge congratulation to him for all these efforts. Here is a time lapse shot of his climbs on both speed routes. (photo ©Lukasz Warzecha)