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Disabled climber's training aim

27 September 09 08:19 GMT

A rock climbing enthusiast is hoping to become one of the first disabled instructors in the UK.

Nik Royale is in the final stages of a training process which will allow him to instruct at indoor climbing centres.

The 36-year-old, who lives near Llanberis, Gwynedd, has a progressive form of cerebral palsy and needs to use a wheelchair at times.

If successful, he hopes to set up disabled rock climbing clubs "to break down the barriers".

Mr Royale said: "I need the wheelchair because I can't walk all the time and after I've been climbing my legs go all shaky because it puts a lot of pressure on them.

"If I pass my assessment I would like to help set up disabled rock climbing clubs because it can help with balance, coordination, physical fitness, stamina and confidence.

"I would like to break down the barriers so people in wheelchairs can actually do it," he said.

He has recently started training at a centre in Liverpool as part of a requirement to climb at three different centres, and said the more challenging facilities had helped him develop.

"Awesome Walls is huge and they're constantly changing their routes," he explained.

"It's very wheelchair-accessible and the staff are friendly and they've made me feel very welcome.

Technical skills

"They've let me train there for free and that includes two friends who can climb with me.

"I've increased my technical skills and I'm climbing a grade higher now."

He is helping at the centre as an assistant instructor and has been a hit with the younger climbers.

The centre's assistant manager, Jude Hargreaves, said people could forget his disability because he was already a "very good climbing instructor".

"He knows his stuff which is essential and we're really pleased to have him on board," said Jude, who has worked at the centre for two years.

"The way it works at the climbing wall is that we like it to be open to absolutely everybody.

"There is a lot of misconception about the sport that it's only suitable for the very fit and very strong.

"That's not the case. It's open to absolutely everybody and Nik is very passionate about the sport and wants to publicise that fact."

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