A Kelowna paraclimber on the Canadian national team is training for the upcoming world competition circuit while advocating for disabled athletes.
Shamus Boulianne, 23, was born with a limb difference but didn’t consider himself disabled until he began competing as a Paralympic rock climber in 2021.
His hand malformation was not something that ever held him back, and was not a part of his identity growing up. However, after getting into climbing and noticing the lack of disabled athletes in the outdoors, Boulianne realized the importance of being an advocate for people with disabilities.
April is limb difference awareness month and Boulianne wants to use his platform as one of the world’s best paraclimbers to encourage more people to get involved in the sport.
Boulianne believes that climbing is one of the best activities for disabled people looking to get active, since each route is different and there are many modifications available within the sport.
“You can really do it at any ability level, so no matter what you have going on, there is a climb you’re capable of.”
Boulianne has a split hand malformation on his right arm that forces him to ‘break beta’, which is the climbing term for getting to the top of a route in a unique way.
“I never climb a route in the same way as anyone else… it kind of suits climbing well.”
The two fingers on his right hand do not bend so he can only use the appendage to push, not hang-on to holds.
Within the sport, athletes use their bodies and varying levels of strength, flexibility and height, to climb routes in different ways, but Boulianne certainly has to make creative changes to ‘beta’ most others use, to send routes.
He is currently training hard and fundraising to compete in the 2023 international paraclimbing circuit, which starts in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, in May, and then in June he will fly to Europe to compete in Innsbruck, Austria, and then Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland. In August, Boulianne will fly back to Switzerland for the World Championships in Bern.
“My ultimate goal is to win gold for Canada and become World Champion.”
All money raised in Boulianne’s GoFundMe will be used to cover his travel and competition expenses.