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Nik Royale

February 23, 2011

You won’t catch me climbing any walls, but I’m inspired anyway!

A climber with cerebral palsy who has qualified as an instructor fears he may have to move to England to get work.

Nik Royale, 37, of Caernarfon, Gwynedd, battled against the odds to qualify as an instructor on indoor climbing walls.

“I can find full-time employment doing this, but not in this area,” he said.

Mr Royale says he finds it particularly frustrating when he lives in a region that is a major climbing area and boasts a number of indoor climbing centres and walls.

“When I said I wanted to teach from a wheelchair they said that wasn’t possible,” he added.

“I’m in my chair 70% of the time now. I use my legs as little as possible these days because they’re so unreliable.”

Currently, when he wants to climb, he travels to Awesome Walls in Liverpool, where he trained and passed his instructor’s assessment.

A member of the public might not realise that a person in a wheelchair could get a climbing wall qualification
Jon Garside, British Mountaineering Council

Simon Aldridge, manager of the Liverpool centre, said: “Nik is fully qualified to instruct. He could work for himself or for any company.

“He was perfectly safe belaying and doing anything from the wheelchair, so I can’t see that being much of a problem.

“And with his qualification he doesn’t actually have to climb the walls, he’s more there as a supervisor to make sure everyone’s doing everything safely.”

Jon Garside, training officer for the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and Mountain Leader Training England, the body with which Nik qualified, said access might be a problem at some centres.

He said: “A lot of climbing walls are built in existing buildings like churches. The vast majority are not in a purpose-built building.

“So there may inadvertently be a compromise with access. But some in north Wales do have ground level access.”

Hurdles

He added that disability climbing competitions and awareness workshops have been run for a number of years.

“A member of the public might not realise that a person in a wheelchair could get a climbing wall qualification,” he added.

Nik has only been able to use his qualifications to teach friends and family so far.

“I’ve been offered work in Manchester and possible work in Liverpool. I’ve also been offered work in instruction in Oxford and Kent,” said Nik, who only took up climbing in 2008 when he scaled Tryfan in the Ogwen Valley for charity.

He has a progressive form of cerebral palsy and agreed to be filmed as he pursued his dream of becoming an instructor to show what hurdles he had to overcome.

The film, Equal to Everybody Else, was created by local producers 2Ray Productions, and has been published on the website of one of his sponsors, DMM Climbing of Llanberis.

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