Maureen (“Mo”) Beck downplays the difficulty of climbing at an elite level with one hand. She likens climbing to solving a puzzle and says every body shape and size solves the puzzle differently. Other climbers’ beta is generally useless to her, since she’s almost always forging her own route. When the puzzle was a 5.12 route in Boulder Canyon, Colorado, she spent more than 6 months—trying up to eight times a day—failing before she solved it. The solution involved jamming what she calls her “stump” into a crack about 2 inches wide and swinging her entire body over the rock to catch the next hold. It’s the perfect ending to the documentary “Stumped”, which chronicles Mo’s rise to five-time national champion and two-time world champion.
Growing up on the Maine coast, Mo—whose parents never used the word “disabled”—spent her childhood outside, but didn’t climb until the age of 12, when she was introduced to the sport through Girl Scouts. Immediately, she was buying books and magazines about climbing and saving her babysitting money to hire a guide in Acadia National Park to teach her basic skills. She invented techniques using a trial and error process, slowly (and sometimes painfully) learning out how to climb one-handed. She climbed the crags of New England before moving to Colorado in 2012. Despite a lack of adaptive categories at the time, Mo entered local climbing competitions to meet fellow climbers. When the first-ever national paraclimbing competition took place in Atlanta in 2014, she earned a spot on Team USA and traveled to Spain to earn a Paraclimbing World Championship title in 2014.
The 32-year-old chairs the USAC Paraclimbing Committee and through the nonprofit Paradox Sports, she spreads awareness of adaptive climbing and introduces differently abled people to climbing by providing adaptive climbing training at facilities across the country.