A post by Martin Perry
Being born with no hands and only one leg, I’ve overcome many barriers and climbed many walls…figuratively speaking. I’ve never felt held back, and I’ve always tried my best when faced with a challenge. One of my latest challenges was actually climbing a wall. Being over 6 foot tall I’ve always been able hop fences and puddles with ease. However to actually climb a wall, to fight against gravity, that was a new experience. I had my first go with the help of my prosthetic leg and my belayer Tosh who also goes by the pseudonym Alan as part of a Funding your feet event in late November.
We got acquainted and decided that small talk was for those with their feet on the ground and we tried to get me to the top of the wall inside the Glasgow Climbing Centre…we didn’t get very far before I was physically tired and struggling to control my prosthetic leg (for once). After chatting with Tosh we decided I would give it a go with the prosthetic left on the ground and I could use my stump as an anchor point on the wall. The difference was incredible and within a few goes I had managed to get at least 10 feet off the ground. However I had been attempting to scale the wall for over an hour know and the new found physicality was proving tiresome.
After a coffee break (Tosh’s treat, even better!) we decided to tackle a new wall. This new wall had a slight angle to it making it easier to scale according to Tosh. He was right. Easier? Yes. Easy? No, not to begin with. We slowly but surely started to get higher and higher and as my confidence grew not only in myself, but also in my trust in Tosh I pushed myself higher. To the top.
I made it all the way to the top. It felt great. At this later stage in the day myself and Tosh had gotten to know each other better and he knew he could push and challenge me further. So he did. Tosh set me the new challenge of sticking to the one grade of climb with only 3 wild cards as he called them ( holds not included in the “official”graded route) . On my first attempt I used 4 wild card holds, Tosh only saw 3 but I owned up. We tackled it again this time only permitting 3 again. I managed it in 2. Tosh suggested we change route, to the easiest route upwards but with no wild cards whatsoever. Together, we accomplished it. It seemed about time for Tosh to call it a day when I said that before I go, I wanted to scale our original route with no wild cards.
No questions asked, Tosh was on board with the idea. As I was about to attempt it Tosh pulled me aside and told me put more faith in my shoes and in the “natural” pieces of rock that stuck out from the indoor wall. With the words of Tosh in my head, I was ready to follow his words blindly. Put faith in the wall. Put faith in the shoes. I did as was instructed and scaled the wall on our original route with no wild cards and only the use of the wall and our designated holds.
There I was, 12 metres in the air, hanging from a wall looking down a Grade 4+ club and even as I type this one week on from the day, I still can’t work out who had the bigger smile.