WCS17 headliner Anoushé Husain tells WCS more about Paraclimbing London, an exciting new social initiative for differently abled climbers with any sort of disability, visible or invisible including cancer and mental health.
Why did you set up Paraclimbing London?
I've been climbing for a while and until I went to my first paraclimbing competitions, I had never met another paraclimber. That experience of being with other differently-abled climbers was amazing. None of us were the same but we had so much in common. The atmosphere felt safe, welcoming and when I came back to train in London, I realised I missed it. Having talked to other paraclimbers, one of the main things they would all say was how hard it was to find other differently-abled climbers to regularily climb with. There's something very different about climbing with my able-bodied partners and my differently-abled ones. We push each other so much harder and no one calls us inspirational. It's also so much easier to talk about the individual challenges we might be facing.
When I started climbing, I had been really ill and was struggling to climb up a flight of stairs, I know I would have benefitted from an initiative like Paraclimbing London.
What happens at a Paraclimbing London session?
People turn up and then we start climbing! If you're new or haven't climbed in a while or just want to come and have a chat, that is all great. I always offer everyone a chance to chat to get them comfortable and offer to meet up ahead of a group session.
We have several types of events from ad hoc ones put up for members looking for partners to ones organised by us or that are jointly organised with our supporting walls.
Do you have any coaching or competitions?
We don't do any formal coaching although we will always offer tips and tricks to help each other climb. If members of Paraclimbing London want formal coaching, we will point them in the right direction. The British Mountaineering Council and Climb Scotland run the National Paraclimbing Series, these are open to any level climber of any ability so are really inclusive. If we have enough members, we would definitely consider running friendly competitions.
Which climbing walls are involved and what can other climbing walls do to support you?
At the moment we have VauxWall (who is hosting out launch event on 29th of May!), HarroWall, Castle Climbing Centre and Westway Sports and Fitness. We are already in discussions with a couple of more walls and organisations but for anyone looking to support us, we are always on the lookout for walls that can provide us with a variety of experiences so that anyone of any level with any ability can have a fulfilling session. We are also keen to have volunteer belayers and spotters for when we go bouldering.
How would someone find out more about getting involved?