Three years after the Boston Marathon bombing, survivor Adrienne Haslet-Davis is thriving. On that day, the dancer was in the vicinity of the marathon and when the bombs detonated, lost her leg in the carnage.
In the years since, not only has Haslet-Davis returned to professional ballroom dancing, she also did the foxtrot at the finish line of the Boston Marathon one year in a powerfully symbolic gesture. She completed all 26 miles of the race this year and then, this past weekend, scaled Ecuador's third-highest peak, a monumental feat made all the more remarkable with her prosthetic limb.
Haslet-Davis posted a triumphant photo on Twitter taken atop the 18,996-foot snowcapped Volcan Cayambe. Haslet-Davis was accompanied by a group of climbers from the Range of Motion Project, an organization that provides prosthetics in Guatemala and Ecuador.
"One down, one to go!!" she tweeted. "Boston you are with me!"
Haslet-Davis told A Plus in an email that while scaling Cayambe was "by far the most difficult thing I have ever done, it was also one of the most rewarding." She continued:
It was beyond challenging. I could train with my pack on up and down stairs all day in Boston. However there were the unknowns: how I would handle altitude, how do you use only an ice axe and crampons to scale a glacier for over two hours of the climb, etc. I had to wait until I got here to find out. I acclimated just fine, our world renowned guides were happily impressed, as was I with no sickness! Yet scaling the glacier was the toughest part. It was a perfectly clear night, we began the climb at midnight so the snow and ice were more compact. Yet when we hit the glacier we were in the open. The winds were tough and I fell, clenching onto my guide's rope, saving my life. If it were not for his skills and quick reactions I would have fallen miles to my death! That was the hardest part to swallow and keep going.
According to a caption on her Instagram photo on the summit, Haslet-Davis scaled Cayambe as part of a fundraising expedition for Range of Motion Project. She is also involved in raising awareness and money for Limbs for Life.
"I never thought I could climb a glacier with an Ice Axe when I can't even feel if my foot was locked in the ice! Our mission as a team, stronger than the rock itself, was accomplished," she added. "I gave that volcano every ounce of strength and mental capacity that I could. That is what success is to me. Knowing you gave it everything and being proud of that."
Challenging as the climb was, Haslet-Davis said she was committed to raising awareness about the plight of those for whom prosthetics are inaccessible:
I won't stop running, climbing and shouting it from the mountaintop until this human rights issue is on the forefront of global healthcare solutions.