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A Revolutionary Climb

A Revolutionary Climb

Para-Olympian Chris Waddell, paralyzed from the waist-down, recently summitted 19,340-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro in a custom-made, four-wheel handcycle.
By Erin Lee
posted: 12/18/2009

Photo by One-Revolution via Flickr

Presented with the idea of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, most of us would come up with a laundry list of excuses for why we couldn’t do it. We’d go on about how we’d never be able to get in shape for something like that or how work was just too busy. Then someone like Chris Waddell comes along and puts all of our excuses to shame. Chris Waddell climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro—without his legs.

As impossible as it sounds, Waddell, a para-olympian paralyzed from the waist down in a freeskiing accident at the age of 20, just completed all 19,340 feet of the climb. Accompanied by a group of friends and a camera crew, Waddell conquered the mountain this fall, a feat never before accomplished by a paraplegic. He was armed with his four-wheel, arm powered handcycle, “Bomba,” which allowed him to navigate the many obstacles presented throughout the daunting trek. In addition to overcoming the rugged terrain, Waddell also had to face the mountain’s dramatic climates, including snow, intense heat and just about everything in between.

His motto for the trip, “one revolution,” is also his motto for life. He describes it as, “One revolution of the handcycle, one revolution of the earth, one lifetime, one moment, one chance to make a difference." Remarkably undaunted by the task at hand, Waddell saw the trek as a chance to bring attention to those who live with disabilities, and to show the world just how much disabled people had the ability to achieve. The journey took him seven days. What did the rest of us do while he spent a week climbing the mountain? We sat at our desks, stayed out of shape and came up with excuses.

Check out this video about Waddell's adventure.

For more photos, see Waddell's website.


To read our feature article on Chris, check out "Take a Seat"

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