Paralympic hand cyclist Karen Darke was just 21 when she set off on a climbing trip that would change her life forever. Leading a climb on a sea cliff outside Aberdeen, she fell as the last bit of secured protection came away. Three days later, she woke up in intensive care to the news she’d broken her neck and back, paralysing her from the waist down.
In this episode, Rob Pope chats to Karen about her climbing accident and the achievements that followed it – from hand cycling across the Himalayas on a specially made tandem and spending a month in minus 30°C temperatures crossing Greenland on skies, to the highs and lows of Paralympic training, and a punishing schedule that took her to London and Rio...
Karen also reveals how she was forced to confront her fears and past trauma head-on when she agreed to climb the revered and unforgiving sheer granite behemoth of El Capitan in Yosemite, California. Twenty metres up and petrified, Karen shares the mental process she used to overcome her fear and take control of her mind, as she physically took on the equivalent of 4,000 pull-ups to scale the kilometre-high sheer granite rock face.
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