Paraplegic Marc Herremans to climb El Capitan



See my update for how this turned out.

This has been a big season for "disabled" ascents of El Cap, though I don't quite see how anyone who climbs El Cap can quite be labelled as disabled or handicapped. Marc Herremans is currently planning to climb the Nose and become only the second paraplegic to do so, following the inspiring example of Mark Wellman.

The season started off with Craig DeMartino climbing Lurking Fear in a day with Hans Florine. Craig was a strong climber who took a bad fall and ended up with one leg amputated at the knee and the other with limited utility. Craig is still a strong climber, actually, and it is believed that his is the first one-day ascent by an amputee.

Then a bit later, Hans Florine again teamed up with Wayne Willoughby, a polio victim whose life story could be a the dictionary entry for "tough" and "suffering". Wayne and Hans also did El Cap in a day, this time up the Nose with Tico Allulee completing the team. This was Wayne's FIFTH one-day ascent of El Cap and his first one-day ascent of the Nose (I previously reported that it was his first one-day ascent of El Cap, but see Wayne's comment below).

Now Marc Herreman from Belgium is preparing to climb the Nose with a strong team of friends. Marc placed sixth overall in his first Hawaii Ironman and then was training hard with hopes to win it the next year when he took a fall on his bike in 2001 and became paralyzed from the chest down - no feeling or control in his legs or abdomen. When Marc was in the hospital, his friends dropped by and gave him a copy of Mark Wellman's book, Climbing Back, the story of Wellman's ascents of El Cap as a paraplegic. The friends, all strong climbers from Belgium who all have multiple ascents of El Cap under their belts, decided that some day they would go back to Yosemite together and climb the Nose with Marc. Now they are here with Belgian movie director Stijn Coninckx and his film crew who will make a documentary of Marc's ascent.

Marc will start up the Nose on Monday and with luck and persistence and the help of good friends, arrive at the top on July 13 or 14. Stop and cheer if you're driving by El Cap on those days.


PS - Marc and his crew are

PS - Marc and his crew are NOT doing the Nose with Hans Florine, which apparently makes them the only disabled ascent this year without Hans as far as I know, but Hans is letting Marc and six team members stay at his house, so I guess he's involved in all three projects in some way.

hi tom, thanks for

hi tom, thanks for including me on your disabled ascents of el cap for 06 page. you mentioned that the nose was my first one day ascent of el capitan. it was actually my sixth. the others, zodiac, once in 12 hours, and then an under 24 hour car to car ascent with 15 hours on the route, the triple direct in 17 hours, zenyatta mondatta in around 29 hours, and bad seed in 19 hours and 12 minutes.

cheers! wayne

Hey wait a minute, last I

Hey wait a minute, last I checked, there aren't 29 hours in a DAY! Anyway, I've corrected it, but I'm going to have to list it as your FIFTH one-day ascent (sixth ascent "in a push"). No matter what, that's more than 99.9999% of the climbers in the world can claim.

hey tom,

hey tom,
great web site.its great to hear from all the other "disabled" climbers out there. thanks for keeping us up to date.

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