Being outside in the natural world has always been a healing, exciting, and breath-taking experience. Unfortunately, in 2002, my love for climbing almost took my life, after a 100-foot ground fall resulted in months in the hospital, a fused back and neck, and the amputation of my right leg.
Over the next few years I rebuilt my body and mind through climbing, working up to the levels prior to the accident was full of fearful moments, joyous surprises, and realization climbing could be more then just a sport I did—
The vets run the gambit from PTSD to missing limbs, all searching for the person they were before, to be that person again or to be better. I began teaching adaptive climbing courses with Adaptive Adventures, a non-profit based in Denver, where I focused on teaching veterans in some of my clinics.
These fit the model they are used to, and you can see the military similarities in the ways that I teach. There is a definitive way to stay safe and the simplicity of this can be a calming thing. As we progress, I watch the confidence grow in each climber and the we encourage them to cheer and support one another in both voice and touch. A slap on the back and some hearty ribbing also just come with the territory.
On the introduction courses I watch as the vets go from shells of former soldiers to the shimmer of light that is the new person coming out of the darkness. This can be powerful stuff not only for the climber but for the person teaching.
Make them whole again and send them on a path that can’t erase the past, but blend it into a future that is rich with experiences and adventure. It is a healing thing.
In 2002, Craig's life changed dramatically. He was accidentally dropped 100 feet while climbing in CO. He endured a three month stay in the hospital and later a rehab facility where he began to rebuild his life and body. After 18 months, Craig decided to amputate his leg below the knee to return to climbing, and the quality of life he once enjoyed.
Now, with 30 years of climbing experience under his belt, Craig has a new and exciting view of the world. He believes perspective is a great tool to motivate us, and the accident gave him true perspective.
Once he returned to climbing, Craig pushed his body to learn and re-learn the art of climbing. His journey continues on and he now serves as a motivational speaker.