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Woman Paraplegic Climbs El Cap Despite Yosemite’s Closure

On October 12, despite the government shutdown, Belgian climber Vanessa Francoise cranked over 4,000 pull-ups to make a successful paraplegic ascent of El Capitan.

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Vanessa Francois training for El Cap. On October 12, the Belgian climber Vanessa François topped out on the tallest granite monolith in the world, making a successful ascent of the Zodiac on El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park. However, the obstacles François overcame to climb El Cap are what make her ascent remarkable. For starters, she traveled to California only to be denied access into the the park due to the government shutdown. But this setback didn’t stop François. In fact, the access probably seemed minor compared to her true challenge … climbing El Cap without using her legs.

After being struck by falling ice during a “beautiful sunny day in the mountains” in Chamonix two and a half years ago, François lost use of her legs. Not one to give up, she partnered with the two-time world climbing champion Liv Sansov, the French military high-mountain team member Marion Poitevine and, another climber, Fabien Dugits, to accomplish one of her dreams: to climb El Cap. Enduring three days and four nights on the wall, she cranked over 4,000 pull-ups to summit El Capitan.

Check out this video of her training for El Cap.

El Cap à bout de bras — Teaser from “Vaness en moov” on Vimeo.