Maureen Beck has never allowed herself to be limited by the fact that she was born with one hand. It’s an attitude that was established early on when her parents refused to treat her any differently because she had a ‘disability’.
In a 2016 blog post (Growing up Gimpy), she recounts how, as a child, she’d asked her mother to cut her steak for her.
Her mother refused, saying, “You want ME to cut your meat? What are you going to do when you’re older and out of the house?”
Beck learned to cut her own meat and went on to prove wrong anyone who tried to limit her life.
That was certainly the case when a summer camp counselor told her to skip the rock-climbing activity. She refused to sit out and, though a little bruised, her love of the sport blossomed.
Time passed and, even though there was no guide for rock climbing with one hand, she was determined to figure it our for herself. She used a trial-and-error technique that, at one point, saw her taping a metal ladle to her arm.
It wasn’t long before she was leading a group of adaptive climbers; forging a path for a new generation of climbers who, like Beck, refused to be limited by what others viewed as disabilities.
Beck went on to secure the gold medal at the 2014 Paraclimbing World Championships in Spain and defended the title two years later at the championships in Paris. In 2017, legendary adaptive climber Jim Ewing (who had lost part of his leg in a 2014 climbing accident but returned almost immediately to climbing) invited Beck to join him in the first adaptive ascent of North America’s Lotus Flower, a wild and unforgiving tower in Canada’s Cirque of the Unclimbables.
The month-long expedition faced rough weather, illness, and a food shortage but Beck persevered and, was thereafter named one of National Geographic’s 2019 Adventurer’s of the Year.
Now based in the Colorado Front Range, Beck works with the paraclimbing section of USA Climbing.
Beck will be appearing at Victoria’s Royal Theatre on April 25 as part of National Geographic’s touring speaker series. Tickets start at $41.50 and are available online at rmts.bc.ca, by phone at (250) 386-6121 or in person at the McPherson Playhouse Box Office.
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