As if climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest free standing mountain, isn’t difficult enough, paraplegic Chris Waddell conquered it using the power of his arms alone.
Waddell, now 43, climbed the mountain in September of 2009 using a specially adapted cycle that was steered by his chest and powered by his arms. He was accompanied by seven teammates and 60 porters, who helped to lay down boards to bridge gaps to accommodate his wheels. The adventure only took the team six and a half days, which is not much longer than it takes an able-bodied climber to complete.
Each crank of the pedals only propelled him forward a few centimeters on the four-inch wide wheels. He said one of the most challenging aspects of the hike was climbing out of frequent waterbars, which are designed to preserve the trail during the rainy season, in which he would lose his momentum to scale out of the sometimes 3ft deep ruts.
In college, the adventurer broke his back in a skiing accident, paralyzing him from the waist down. However, this didn’t stop him from his love of skiing as he was back on the slopes using a mono-ski within a year of the accident. He then went on to become the most decorated male skier in the Special Olympics, winning 12 medals at four games.
This year, a documentary showing his journey to the top of Kilimanjaro has won awards at film festivals in Geneva and Memphis. The climb aided Waddell’s foundation One Revolution, whose goal is to “change people’s impressions and expectations of disabled people.” He says the foundation stands for “how something small can lead to something big – how one turn of the cranks can lead to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, or how reach one child can change the nature of our perceptions.” Over $20,000 was raised by the trip.
Now, the foundation is working on designing and producing an All-Terrain Handcycle, so that other paraplegics may take advantage of similar hiking opportunities. On Friday, Chris Waddell was featured on ABC’s 20/20’s Superhuman segment.
See full story here.