MichaelgSeamans's Blog

Illiterate ramblings from a photographer.

Third Annual Gimps on Ice 2010-More Fun Than Shooting at Cars.

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Chad Butrick, 33, of Arvada , Colo., lead climbs the ice route "Tangled Up In Blue" in the Ouray Ice Park to kick off Gimps On Ice in Ouray, Colo., on Friday, March 12, 2010. Butrick, the Director of Operations at Paradox Sports is a right leg amputee and one of the organizers of Gimps On Ice.


The crunch of steel points penetrating the ice and the steady pulmonic groan of an exhausted climber echoed though the Uncompahgre Gorge as the afternoon sun waned over the mountains in Ouray, Colorado on Friday, March 12, 2010.

Chad Butrick, 33, of Arvada, Colo., leads his way up the 110 foot high ice flow in the world famous Ouray Ice Park and barks, “Off belay” followed by a loud and boisterous “Yes!”.

What makes this climb so special you ask? Butrick has only one leg. His right-leg was amputated below the knee after an automobile accident in Missouri in 2005. Only six weeks ago, Butrick was receiving ice climbing instruction from Amped Outdoors Technical Director, Mark Miller, on the small ice bump that overlooks the ice park called the Kid’s Wall. Now he’s leading the route “Tangled Up In Blue”, a long WI-4 (Water Ice Grade-4) ice climb in the Ice Park.

Chad Butrick, 33, of Arvada, Colo., gives the thumbs-up to Mark Miller (not seen) after leading Tangles Up In Blue in the Ouray Ice Park to kick off the second annual Gimps on Ice on March 12, 2010.

Butrick, along with 20 other disabled men and women converged in the tiny mountain town of Ouray, Colorado, with a common desire to identify, meet and exceed their limits. Paradox Sports and Amped Outdoors facilitated and organized the third annual Gimps on Ice that included three days of scaling frozen waterfalls and eating hot lunches in the Ouray Ice Park. The disabilities ranged from missing arms, legs, feet and fingers to an incomplete paraplegic and a full paraplegic.

The purpose for Gimps On Ice says, Chad Butrick,  director of operations at Paradox Sports and a right leg amputee, “To get people out. We want to build community and confidence for people with disabilities. And how best to do that than through ice climbing.”

Heidi Duce, of Ouray, Colo., follows Tangled Up In Blue in the Ouray Ice Park on Friday, March 12, 2010.

Heidi Duce, 19, climbs Tangled Up In Blue in the Ouray Ice Park as part of the second annual Gimps on Ice climbing event on Friday, March, 12, 2010.

Butrick, calls this the best adaptive program he has ever been to. “It’s not the actual program that makes it the best; it’s the town (Ouray). Everyone in this town just wants to help and see you succeed.”

Gimps on Ice – spawned from climber Malcolm Daly in 2008 while executive director of Paradox Sports. As the main sponsor, Paradox Sports’ goal is stated, “to provide inspiration, opportunities and adaptive equipment to the disabled community, empowering their pursuit of a life of excellence through human-powered outdoor sports.” And that is what Daly wanted to do through ice climbing. An already adaptive sport for all.

Malcolm Daly welcomes participants to the second annual Gimps on Ice at the kick-off dinner at the Ourayle House in Ouray, Colo., on Friday, March 12, 2010.

Daly, owner of Trango climbing equipment and Executive Director of Paradox Sports, lost part of his right leg in a climbing accident while attempting to climb a new ice route with Jim Donini in 1999 on the south side of Thunder Mountain, a spur of of Mt. Hunter in Alaska. Daly describes ice climbing as the perfect activity for the disabled because, “We only need one more piece of gear.” The nature of ice climbing is an adaptive sport for anybody to do so it seems like the perfect fit for disabled climbers.

Vijay Viswanathan, 24, of Breckenridge, Colo, a t5 paraplegic and sponsored climber, describes his second trip the event, “Gimps on Ice is a great way for me to access this place because all the volunteers coordinated a strategy to get me in and out and also help me jug a rope and climb in the canyon. Gimps on Ice gives me a great opportunity to experience this canyon.”

Vijay Viswanathan, 24, a parapalegic from Breckenridge, Colo., is lowered into the Uncompahgre Gorge for Gimps On Ice in Ouray, Colo., March 13, 2010. Gimps on Ice is an adaptive program facilitated by Boulder based non profit organization, Paradox Sports and by Ouray based non profit organization, Amped Outdoors to help the active disabled get out and climb ice.

Chad Jukes, 25, of Salt Lake City, Utah, a right-leg, below the knee amputee from an IED in Iraq in 2006, describes his second year in attendance and why this is so important, “there is people who have been disabled for a while and they thought their life in the outdoors is over. Just seeing those people get out and see they can do it is what makes this so special.” The simple idea that if I can get out and climb ice, imagine what else I can do. Jukes summed up Gimps on Ice by saying, “It [Gimps on Ice] was an amazing success. A great event. We got John, an incomplete paraplegic, to climb for the first time in 10 years. Those stories are what make Gimps on Ice a success. To get out and say “Wow! I can do this.”

The event does not only help the disabled realize their limits and climb beyond them. “I would say us getting out doing what we do has affected more lives of able-bodied people than disabled people. We are spiting our injuries and saying you will not stop us. We’ve come to the realization we want to do what makes us happy. And this makes us happy.” comments Jukes.

Chad Jukes, center, hangs out with fellow Gimp climbers at the bottom of the Uncompahgre Gorge in Ouray, Colo., on Sunday, March 14, 2010.

Jukes continues “I’m not saying everybody should quit their jobs and become a dirtbag climber. It’s about the individual figuring out what makes them happy, whether its finding more time to be with your family or just being able to go to the park with the kids. Paradox Sports and Amped Outdoors are here to help those people realize their dreams no matter how big or small they may be.”

For some, the event is about the personal challenge, but the common thread that they all share was said best by Jukes, “Gimps on Ice is like an annual recharge for me. I go to Gimps on Ice and there is so much energy and so much power and motivation. To see people who’s life has changed drastically – It gives me a little more motivation to get out and get after it.”

Remember to follow the epic journey Two Climbers, Two Feet and Two Mountains. The story of two disabled climbers’ pursuit to climb three technical routes in the Ruth Gorge of the Alaska Range this May


Written by michael G. Seamans

March 17, 2010 at 1:45 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Michael,
    Looks like it was a blast! I love the energy in the article… plus the pictures re great.


    Anthony Kambeitz

    March 17, 2010 at 5:44 pm

  2. I love it! Malcolm looks like he is in an opera or somethin.

    Chad Jukes

    March 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm

  3. […] There’s another gallery of good photos from Gimps on Ice at Michael Seamans’ blog. […]

  4. […] past two weeks have been a blur, complete with a pre-Gimps On Ice party at the Butrick residence in Arvada, Colo., a harrowing late night drive down route 285 to […]

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