Last weekend saw dozens of paraclimbers from across the country travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to climb in the 2021 Paraclimbing National Championships. Paraclimbers compete in five general categories split by gender, AU (Upper Limb Amputee, 1 or 2), AL (Lower Limb Amputee, 1 or 2), RP (Limited reach, power, or stability, 1, 2, or 3), B (Visually Impaired or Blind, 1, 2, or 3), and Youth (Under 16). Each visually impaired climber generally uses a caller to shout out holds and moves, as well.
Over 50 climbers entered the 2021 Paraclimbing National Championships, which took place at the Momentum Millcreek Gym.
Chloe Poston took gold in the female Youth bracket, and no male climbers competed in the Youth category.
Paige Trotter won the female B3 bracket (no female climbers competed in B1 or B2). Meanwhile, Justen Proctor, Justin Salas, and Connor Gearey each secured a gold medal in Men’s B1, B2, and B3 respectively.
Sunny Yang snagged the gold medal in the male RP1 category (there were no female RP1 climbers), while Ben Mayforth and Emily Seelenfreund did the same in male RP2 and female RP2, respectively, as did Micah Winkle and Tatiana Crenshaw in male RP3 and female RP3.
In male AU2 and female AU2, Brian Zarzuela and Maureen Beck scored first place. For Beck, it was her seventh first place finish in seven years of competing. Meanwhile, Tanner Cislaw and Manasi Deshpande scored first place in male AL1 and female AL1. Ronnie Dickson and Hannah McFadden did the same in male AL2 and female AL2.
Check out the YouTube livestream from the 2021 Paraclimbing National Championships Finals Session 1 (B, Youth, RP1, AL1, AL2) and Finals Session 2 (AU1, AU2, RP2, RP3) to see these climbers in action!
Want to learn more about the different paraclimbing classifications? Here’s a bit of info from Paraclimbing.org.
Higher numbers equal higher functionality (less impairment), lower numbers equal lower functionality (more impairment).
- B1 athletes are completely blind and have to climb with a blindfold, B2 athletes have a visual acuity of up to 2/60 and/or a visual field of less than 5%, B3 in between 2/60 and 6/60 visual acuity and a visual field in between 5 % and 20 %. Blind climbers have a sight guide who announces the holds and moves for the climber.
- AU1 athletes only have one functioning arm, so their climbing style is one arm dynamic moves. Precise footwork and body positioning is needed to compensate for the missing arm.
- AU2 has one arm with a forearm amputation or a limb deficiency so that the athlete has one arm and one stump left for climbing. Their reach is limited, the use of finger pockets and pinching is also not possible with the impaired arm.
- AL1 is for athletes who use wheelchairs due to no usable function from the waist down or for double hip disarticulation amputees. Their climbing style is purely campusing as they have no use of their legs.
- AL2 has at least one leg amputation or limb deficiency – no matter the length. The only minimum criteria is that there may be no ankle left. The athletes also may decide if they want to climb with a prosthesis or not. Climbing styles are very different depending on the athlete using a prosthesis or not. There is also a difference if it is a below or above knee amputation / limb deficiency because the additional joint allows specific hooking which might be helpful in steep walls.
- RP athletes may have neurological or physiological impairments which can be very different. Some athletes of lower RP classes need a wheelchair while others are limited by other factors (flexibility, coordination, strength). Climbing styles are very different here and in general, in RP categories there are way more “different” types of impairment competing against each other in comparison to other categories.
Photos by Bree Robles