Amputee Climbing Duo Aims for Inspiring 1,600-Foot Nevada Route First

With its infinite expanse of towering sandstone partitions, Red Rock National Conservation Area exterior Las Vegas is likely one of the high climbing locations within the U.S. Groups line up for the basic 5.9 route Epinephrine, a 1,600-foot line that Alex Honnold and the late Brad Gobright used to hurry solo. Gobright sprinted the road in 59 minutes; Honnold in 39. However most everybody else requires at the very least eight hours.

Epinephrine has bodily and thuggish climbing, the place it’s important to stuff your complete physique in chimney-width cracks. The difficult descent provides one other few hours to the day, by means of a steep nondescript climber’s path marked by rock cairns. Many groups go down in the dead of night, and sometimes get misplaced.

This spring, two above-the-knee amputees, Ronnie Dickson, a prosthetist from Chattanooga, Tenn., and Adrien Costa, a former semi-professional bike owner and school pupil in Bend, Ore., are hoping to turn out to be the primary above-the-knee amputees to climb the route.

Dickson Costa climb
Dickson, mountain climbing to a bouldering downside deep in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park. Courtesy Ronnie Dickson. Photograph: Andrew Chao

Dickson is a sponsored climber with Evolv, who makes a speciality of overhanging boulders and bolted face routes. He’s the one above-the-knee amputee to boulder V10, which is a problem reached by solely the highest echelon of climbers. Costa seeks out multipitch 5.10 (and tougher) routes on the high climbing areas within the U.S., together with Smith Rock in Oregon and Yosemite in California.

After seeing climbing movies of Dickson on-line, Costa reached out and the 2 started planning. This spring might be their first time climbing collectively.

Ronnie Dickson

In 2005, the skeletal dysfunction Trevor’s illness made Dickson’s left leg inoperable, and he selected to amputate. Surgical procedure introduced reduction to the fixed ache and discomfort.

Two years later, whereas watching amputee rock climbers, together with below-the-knee amputee Craig DeMartino, compete the Extremity Games in Orlando, Florida, he grew to become impressed. “I just took to it. It became an obsession of mine,” he says.

Dickson quickly grew to become a aggressive climber and befriended DeMartino. The 2 began a pleasant rivalry, and at some comps, Dickson would win; different occasions, DeMartino would take the rostrum. “Beating him for the first time made me feel like a real climber,” Dickson says. Their pleasant rivalry continues, and one of many impetuses behind Dickson’s spectacular V10 ascent is that DeMartino was the primary amputee to climb V9.

Along with his hours spent climbing within the gymnasium, Costa additionally climbs exterior, the place he does overhanging sport routes as much as 5.13.

“I never learned to climb with two legs, so I’ve only known climbing like this. Having one leg is just another technique,” he told Climbing magazine.

Dickson Costa climb 3
Dickson, getting technical on the ABS Nationals. Courtesy Ronnie Dickson. Photograph: Dylan Huey

Adrien Costa

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that Adrien Costa was once the most promising young racer in American cycling,” says A two-time silver medalist on the Junior Time Trial World Championships, some believed Costa was on observe to be considered one of biking’s greats like Greg Lemond.

Then, in July 2018, whereas scrambling up the strategy to climb Mount Conness, a 12,590-foot peak in Yosemite, a 4,000-pound boulder rolled over him, crushing his proper leg and pinning him in place. He screamed for near an hour earlier than individuals heard him and despatched an SOS out on their emergency beacon. For six hours, Costa had time to consider how he might by no means climb or race his bike once more.

It then took greater than 15 rescuers to hoist the rock off Costa’s physique. When he lastly arrived on the hospital, he was in important situation.

Three months after his amputation, Costa was again on his bike, however he wasn’t competing. Earlier than his accident, climbing grew to become all-consuming and it took heart stage in his life.

Dickson Costa climb
Costa descending after climbing a protracted route. Courtesy Adrian Costa

Planning his return to climbing, Costa hiked to the highest of Epinephrine so he might turn out to be accustomed to the descent. “I heard horror stories of it,” he says. “It took me five hours to go up and down.”

The primary 12 months of restoration was sluggish and irritating for Costa, however as we speak he repeatedly takes 15-mile hikes, and he’s climbing sturdy.

“I try to remind myself that I’m lucky to do this at all,” he says. “When that boulder trapped me, I remember looking up in those mountains. I felt no need to climb—to just prioritize relationships with other people and be happy.”

To comply with their upcoming climbs, take a look at Costa and Dickson’s Instagram @costadrien and @rdclimber.


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