Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Posted: April 25, 2012 in Documentary
Tags: , , ,

Double Amputee Mountain Climber

This week I’d like to take a break from the Z build to introduce Jerod – a local prosthetic technician, mountain climber, and all around nice guy. Who despite the loss of both legs AND being a diabetic, climbs the highest mountains… literally!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the Velveeta on that one.

I had the privilege of filming Jerod a while back for the documentary, and even went climbing through the mountains of the Delaware Water Gap with him. Truly an amazing experience, and something I’ll never forget.

Double Amputee Mountain Climber

I met Jerod through my fiancée’s father Mark, an avid climber himself. Over dinner one night I mentioned the need to reach out to, and film, other amputees pursuing their dreams for the documentary. Mark mentioned Jerod, a local climber and friend from the gym that just happened to also be an amputee.

Once Mark got the ok that Jerod was interested in the project, I reached out to him. After a lengthy conversation, we hatched a plan to film him hiking up to, and eventually climbing, one of his favorite spots in the picturesque mountains of the Delaware Water Gap.

Double Amputee Mountain Climber

I asked if he could take me there beforehand to scout the location, so I’d know what we were up against when we filmed, and he agreed.

Like a true novice (and city boy that I am), I showed up in a pair of Chuck Taylor’s – I.E. sneakers… only to find out this was no simple hike on a freshly groomed trail to get to the climbing spot… It was an adventure in itself!

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

We’re talking ditch your car on the side of the highway and duck off into some thick brush to start the semi-vertical ascent through rocks, trees, loose ground and other hazards just to get to the base of the climb.

What did I get myself into?

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

Armed with a set of gyroscopic feet and a pair of walking sticks (to aid in balance), Jerod lead the way up the trail like the seasoned pro he was.

I couldn’t help but be in awe of Jerod, and I hadn’t even seen the guy climb yet.

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

Breathtaking yet terrifying at the same time.

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

About 15 or so minutes later we arrived at the base of the summit; I stared upwards and remarked, “You’re going to climb that?!?”

Jerod turned to me with a smile and said, “What do you mean? WE’RE going to climb that!” What did I get myself into indeed.

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

No clue what I’m doing here.

I had never climbed anything more than a jungle gym in my life, so it was clear I was going to need some practice if I planed to climb alongside Jerod.

Back on lowland and with just a few weeks before our scheduled shoot, Mark agreed to take my director of photography, Jack, and I to a local climbing gym so we could learn the ropes of climbing. (Man, I can’t help myself with the cheesy puns today.)

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

We took a quick lesson to learn proper knot tying techniques as well as rope wrangling for the belay (buddy system) style of climbing.

Mark then proceeded to give us pointers as we practiced climbing for a few hours.

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

Mark explaining the best ways to attack the wall.

Jack Wrenn

Jack was first up with me on belay (controlling the ropes from below).

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

Then it was my turn.

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

I had a bit more trouble than Jack on the negative pitches due to reduced grip from having only 5 fingers and a right arm to hold with (vs. Jack’s full 10 fingers).

But I won’t hold that against him. (Actually, I did! I was pissed he could climb better than me out the gate, the able bodied bastard! KIDDING, just kidding.) Jack and I both fared pretty well that day. I wish I could say the same for my right arm. After several hours of climbing I blistered the skin right off it. Ouch! No pain no gain right?

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

Overall after just one lesson we both felt confident, or stupid, enough to attempt the climb with Jerod.

Little did we know we were about to find out real world climbing was a lot different than the gym… add to that the fact we were hauling cameras and associated gear with us and we were set for one hell of an adventure!

Double Amputee Mountain Climber Delaware Water Gap

Part 2 of the story coming soon… Stay tuned!

Jay

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Comments
  1. Katie Lisk says:

    Can’t wait for part 2!! I’ve had the privlage of watching Jarod climb, he’s an inspiration.

  2. Michele Brumm says:

    I have known Jerod all my life and he has never said he couldn’t do something.. From farming to high school wrestling champ.. Jerod has always done everything he set his mind too.. He is awesome!

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