I’m getting ready to board a plane at Logan International Airport in Boston, Mass to come back home to DC. I’m looking around me in the waiting room and trying to imagine all of these people roped up and swinging ice tools at the beautiful water ice in the north end of Cathedral Ledge in North Conway, NH. Without a hint of irony or a drop of doubt, I can honestly tell you I can imagine it for every single one of them.
Saturday and Sunday North Conway and the Cathedral Ledge were invaded by Paradox Sports, a Mission Outdoors Partner, to help show people that regardless of the challenge, nothing is out of reach, even the top of a frozen waterfall.
The Military Families and Veterans Initiative partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project and Veterans Expeditions to ensure veterans, including still serving service members and one Vietnam Vet, who with his son, an Iraqi vet, had two feet; joined the Paradox team. Talk about joining forces.
What does it mean to join the Paradox Team?
It means thinking you can, instead of you cannot.
It means turning Post Traumatic Stress, into Post Traumatic growth.
It means that there are no excuses and that in keeping true to Yoda and the rest of the Jedis out there, “do or do not, there is no try.” Meaning that in Paradox, when you try something, you’re really doing it. The top of the ledge is far less important than those first critical swings of the ice axe. And if you don’t have hands to hold the ice axe, they’ve got a prosthetic arm that is an ice axe.
No feet? No problems. Prosthetic crampons exist. Can’t use your legs? No problems. Where there is a will there is a way. To quote from one of our guides, Erik Eisele:
I've been teaching ice climbing off and on for 10 years, and never in that time have I climbed with a large group where EVERYONE made it to the top. Today, however, I watched 20 people ignore missing limbs, leave their wheelchairs, forget IED and RPG attacks that forever changed their lives and just climb. Not one person failed reach the anchor. In a group where excuses would have been understandable I didn't hear any.
Photos are on the way for the event and we’ll get more posted soon. For now, hopefully you can link here.
We at Sierra Club Mission Outdoors want to thank all of our incredible partners, many listed here already, but also to include the American Alpine Club, Eastern Mountain Sports, International Mountain Equipment, Janet Bergman and Freddie Wilkinson, The Conway Daily Sun, and many, many others who made this incredible weekend happen.
Get outside and get inspired. There’s a whole world waiting for you.
photo credit to Lisa Tharpe
~Stacy Bare, OIF Veteran
Military Families and Veteran Representative to the Sierra Club
"Helping America's Military and Veteran Community experience the freedom of the land they defend"