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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

Warren Macdonald: Fearless Climber


Warren Macdonald was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1965 and grew up in the western suburbs. From a young age, he was very active, and enjoyed catching lizards, fishing, and exploring the outdoors.

In April 1997, Warren experienced an unfortunate climbing accident, spending two days trapped beneath a one-ton boulder on a remote island of the coast of Australia. He lost both of his legs above the knee due to crush injuries. Post-injury, Warren has told his story on the Oprah Winfrey and Larry King Live shows, and was also featured on the show, "I Shouldn't Be Alive," which airs on the Discovery Channel.

Yet Warren's disability has not prevented him from doing what he loves. He still enjoys rock climbing, but his primary sport these days is ice climbing. He was introduced to ice climbing in 2003 and has not looked back since. Warren holds the record as the only double-above-knee amputee to reach the summit of Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,895 m), as well as the only double-above-knee amputee to climb El Capitan (28,000 ft) in Yosemite National Park. He has raced in two triathlons, as well as competed in the Australian National Hand Cycling Championships.

For ambulation, Warren uses a combination of a wheelchair, full-length prosthetics, and stubbie prosthetics. For full-length prosthetics, he uses the Otto Bock C-leg and can generally go unaided. If Warren is traveling longer distances or over uneven terrain, he uses a walking stick to aid him. For hiking and climbing, Warren uses stubbie prosthetics. His rock climbing shoes are coated with C4 sticky rubber, and his ice feet are constructed from modified crampons.

Through all of his travels to remote places and his love of hiking in isolated wilderness areas, Warren was always very adaptable. He believes that this characteristic made for an easier transition after he lost his legs. Warren's accident taught him that since none of us are here forever, we should make the most of our time. Warren has not been slowed down by his disability, as his wheelchair allows for speedier transportation, and serves as an extension of himself.

Warren considers his greatest accomplishments to be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, as well as his climb up the Weeping Wall in the Canadian Rockies (550 ft, grade 6 ice). Shortly after his first climb following his accident, he was asked to do a slide show for a local group, which led to professional speaking. For the past 5 years, professional speaking has been Warren's full-time career. His goals for the future include improving as a speaker as well as a human being. He is always looking for ways to better himself through personal development. In Warren's words: "I believe disability to be a state of mind. Sure, we can be physically limited in what we might be able to do, but I fully believe I am capable of so much more today, minus both legs, than I was prior to 1997. Many people I come across have totally disabled themselves through creating obstacles in their minds that simply did not exist until they manifested them. Shining a light on this and encouraging people to see the world in a different way has become my life's mission."

For more information about Warren or to contact him, please visit his website, www.warren-macdonald.com/.



Disclaimer: Proper precautions must be taken before you begin an exercise program. An understanding of your current health status and potential problems is necessary for you to exercise safely. Please contact your physician if you have any concerns. This program is intended to incorporate high-intensity physical activity into your daily life, but should not be used in place of physical therapy, professional medical advice, or treatment.


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