Wheelchair Adventurer update - Karen Darke

Posted by Ralph | 10:49 AM

Source: Wales Online
PARAPLEGIC adventurer Karen Darke is no stranger to overcoming adversity, facing every challenge head on.

Now she’s taking on an altogether different challenge as she tours UK theatres.
Darke was a keen runner and mountaineer before a rock-climbing accident in 1993 rendered her paralysed.

She has since achieved a series of challenges that most people would never attempt even with full physical ability.

The daughter of two teachers, Darke was born in Halifax in 1971. Her parents’ keen interest in travelling meant she and her brother were taken up mountains from an early age.

She climbed Ben Nevis at the age of seven, and at the age of 10 saw El Capitan for the first time, telling her parents that one day she would return to climb it. She was further inspired at the age of 16 when she won a place on a youth expedition and spent a month mountain biking in western China. This early trip had a fundamental impact on her, developing her fascination for other cultures, for travel, for exploration and for pushing her body to its limits.

After finishing schooI, she pursued a degree in geology and chemistry at Leeds University, followed by a PhD in geology at Aberdeen.

Six months after starting her PhD, she fell while climbing a Scottish sea cliff and broke her back, an accident which left her paralysed from the chest down and facing life in a wheelchair.

But she fought back and, just four years after her accident, Darke crossed the Tien Shan and Karakoram mountains of central Asia on a hand bike. This was to be the first of many adventures which would see her hand-cycle the length of the Japanese archipelago, sea-kayak a 1,200-mile length of the Canadian-Alaskan coastline, cross the Indian Himalaya by hand cycle and make a record-breaking 600-kilometre crossing of the Greenland ice cap.

The theatre tour, called If You Fallcalled If You Fall, is Darke’s story, beginning with her accident and tracking her journey of recovery and acceptance, through to her daring series of adventures – finally leading back to the rockface where she faced her fear head-on and climbed to the summit of El Capitan in Yosemite after more than 4,000 pull-ups

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