Ardrossan veteran with sight loss scales 20-metre wall in first ever climbing experience

Posted: 22/11/2018 | Scottish War Blinded

Scottish War Blinded veteran Peter Conaghan conquered a climbing wall in his very first attempt at the sport this week.

Linburn Centre regular Peter, 54, travelled to Edinburgh International Climbing Arena in Ratho with Linburn Centre Officer Gill Raw on Wednesday, November 20.

Peter (middle) stands in front of the 20-metre climbing wall with his two climbing instructors on either side of him

The ex-paratrooper, originally from Ardrossan but now living in West Lothian, suffered a stroke two years ago which resulted in him losing his sight and has forced him to relearn how to walk and talk.

An exhilarated Peter, who was an accomplished distance runner before the stroke, said of his first experience climbing: “When Gill asked if I wanted to give it a go, what she did was instill confidence.  She thought I could do it and I thought, ‘My goodness, that’s fantastic’.

Peter climbs up an eight-metre wall in his first ever try at the sport

“It was amazing to go along to the climbing centre. If she hadn’t suggested it, I never would I have thought to try it. It’s the can-do attitude she has – it’s because she cares.

“Everyone there instilled confidence in me. The staff were very, very good.

“I have paralysis of my right arm. As I started to climb the eight-metre wall I was thinking, ‘How am I doing this? I’m actually trying to do this.’ Somehow or other I could do it.

Peter climbing the 20-metre wall in his first ever climbing session

“The first climb I managed quite well, I thought. Then they gave me a little break which was fine.

“The 20-metre wall was more challenging, not being able to get to the hand grips. I was given verbal instructions, using clock positions so I knew where the grips were.

“When the instructor told me I was at the top I thought, ‘No’. I was determined to take another step so that I felt I was at the top. The sense of achievement was fantastic. I can’t express what it felt like. It was totally amazing. I’m still buzzing now.

Peter climbs the 20-metre wall

“The way I was taken along, given guidance and encouraged was fantastic. At the Linburn Centre, I take part in the strength and fitness classes and that’s brought my progress along miles – the climbing felt like another level to those classes.”