Jack's story (age 17)Dad Neil says: “We often climb together. Jack has achieved his level 3 NICAS and is well on the way to complete his level 4. Over the last year Jack has also started to lead on Trad routes outside and has also completed a couple of long multi-pitch routes with me."

Jack started on NICAS when he was 14, having climbed all through Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and for his Duke of Edinburgh Award. What would he like to do in the future? Neil says:

“He would like to do more Trad climbing and move onto something more difficult or challenging. He has also suggested he would like to go back to the Alps and maybe do some of the larger peaks, namely peaks such as the Monch, Jungfrau and possibly Mont Blanc. It would seem that his overall aspiration is to turn his hand more toward mountaineering – where climbing is part of the overall journey.

From my point of view just being able to share the pleasure of being out in the mountains with Jack is great and being able to share similar challenges and experiences is brilliant – especially now as my regular climbing partner is my son."

This story were first published in NICAS Newsletter 5, February 2013
Sam's story (age 26)Sam tying in (c) Phil B26 year old Sam has been coming weekly to Awesome Walls Sheffield for about a year. He is part of a group from Sense - a national charity that provide services for people who are deafblind or sensory impaired and have additional difficulties. It is a key part of the Sense philosophy to have their users involved in physical activities. Sam himself is blind, having no vision whatsoever.

During the first few sessions with Sam and his group we started to get a feel for climbing in the Learning Zone – Awesome Wall’s shorter wall – but Sam’s confidence grew so fast that he rapidly progressed to climbing on the larger 15 to 17.5 metre top rope areas.

Sam has now climbed on a variety of angles from slabs to slight overhangs and is dextrous in his use of holds, being able to recognise side pulls, undercuts etc and use them to his advantage. Although he prefers vertical walls, we have tested his skills on the pockets and tufas of our feature wall, through to slopers or tiny crimps.

Sam climbing (c) Phil BAfter Sam’s keyworker Neil questioned us about climbing related certificates, Dominic (our NICAS co-ordinator) and I contacted NICAS regarding how to modify the scheme with Sam in mind. We altered a few of the criteria and now Sam is working toward his level 1 certificate.

Sam’s Modified NICAS Level 1:
  • Understand when it is and isn’t safe to start climbing.
  • Be able to pull a harness up to the correct position, and know when it is correctly tightened.
  • Know the difference between being tied in with a figure 8, and a karabiner.
  • Climb a chosen route (no specific grade) with confidence.
  • Descend from a route correctly.
  • Be part of a belay chain (bell ringing).
  • Demonstrate consistent safe behaviour.
  • Complete 10 climbs of any grade (rainbow).
Our Thursday morning session with the Sense group is one of my favourite sessions of the week. It is truly inspiring to see Sam and the other members of the group, giving their all and progressing week after week. I think Sam likes it too, this week asking Neil if he could still come along during the half term holiday!

For more information on Sense please visit: www.sense.org.uk Thanks to Awesome Walls Sheffield
Words and Photos: Phil Borodajkewycz
Amy's story (age 8) “I first went climbing on Mother’s Day 2012 because my Dad saw that "Mums climbed for free" at Climb Rochdale. I then started my NICAS lessons a week after my 7th birthday.

My group are friendly, funny and just nice to be with. We help each other out by telling each other where the holds are and making sure we’re all safe. My instructors are usually Stuart, Heather or Jamie and they’re all nice. They encourage me to climb harder and it’s never boring because there’s something new to try every time and it’s exciting.”

This story was first published in NICAS Newsletter 5, February 2013
Matthew Phillip's story (GB paraclimbing squad) “My name is Matthew Phillips and I have been a climber for 5 years or so now at a high level competing in 2 world championships and winning twice as well as world cups. Climbing to me is a unique sport in the challenge it poses the problem solving elements combined with the strength and skill needed to be successful and the fact that every boulder is different. Add to that the rich climbing history of where the sport came from, and I think it’s easy to see why so many people have fallen in love with climbing. I know that I certainly have and it had given me so much opportunity to travel the world, meet some amazing people and see some of the most beautiful places in the world.

It’s something that anyone can be involved in and I think as a disabled person I am testimony to the fact that climbing does not limit anyone. As a climbing instructor I also have the opportunity to see children develop and grow their love for the sport through the NICAS scheme, which gives them more and more access to climbing. I think everyone who can should get involved. It could be the turning point into a new hobby or lifestyle, as it was for me.”

This story was first published in July 2020. Thanks Matthew for giving us your views.
Hannah Slaney (GB senior women squad)Hannah Slaney 2 (source: P Slaney)2016: It is 2 years since I wrote an article for the NICAS newsletter and I was recently asked for an update about how my climbing is going.

I am now 16, I have just completed my GCSE's and I continue to compete on the GB Junior Climbing Team in both lead climbing and bouldering.

I still love climbing. I train about 5 times a week doing bouldering, circuits, strength and conditioning and I am always keen to get on a rope both indoors and outdoors.
Hannah Slaney 4 (source: P Slaney)
I’m still a member of a squad in Bristol and recently, as part of my GCSE, I participated in coaching sessions, helping with warm up exercises and sharing my competition experience with young climbers who were starting out. At the beginning of the year I completed the BMC Fundamentals 1 Workshop and Foundation coaching training and I will progress to other coaching qualifications as I turn 17. It is great that there are development programmes like NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering and that like me you can continue to develop skills and keep climbing safe.

I love to travel and climbing has taken me all over the world. In 2016 I have competed in Austria and France and have just returned from a trip to Magic Wood in Switzerland with my friends. My goal at the moment is to be selected for the Junior World Championships which is taking place in China in November. Keep your fingers crossed, I have been training hard! I need to do well in Mitterdorf, Austria and at the British Lead Climbing Championships in Sheffield at the end of September.

Finally, my hopes for the future: to continue to enjoy my climbing as much as I do today, to continue to compete for GB and to encourage others to give climbing a go.

[i]This story is an update from Hannah's first article for us, which was published in NICAS Newsletter 9 October 2014
We also enjoyed reading this story from the 2016 BMC Handbook about 13 year old who is now in 2020 on the GB squad team.

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