by Jeff Johnson
The other day while wandering around Camp 4 in Yosemite I ran into Patagonia ambassador Timmy O’Neill. He was hanging around the SARS site with his brother Sean and some guy named Aron. Timmy asked me if I wanted to climb the Manure Pile with him and Aron. “Sure,” I said. Walking to the parking lot I saw that this guy Aron was missing his right arm. Hmm, I thought. You never know with Timmy. He’s always up to something interesting.
Once at the Manure Pile Timmy started talking about his experiences working with the disabled. He has just started a non-profit organization for disabled athletes called Paradox Sports. Check it out at: paradoxsports.org It’s really cool. Recently he and a few buddies took his paraplegic brother, Sean, up the Salathé Wall on El Capitan – that would be Sean’s third ascent of the Captain. Timmy went on to say that most of the people he has worked with were born without the use of their appendages or whatnot. But Aron was different. He lost his arm around five years ago in a climbing accident. That’s when it occurred to me. This was Aron Ralston, the guy who got trapped by a rock in Colorado and had to cut his arm off to get free and survive. Now he’s way into climbing. He’s had a special prosthetic arm that has two hook-like tools on the end. He can hook onto little crimpers, wedge the cam hook-like device into tiny cracks, or simply jam the thing into wide cracks. It’s fairly new so he’s just getting used to it.