Scarpa North America Blog

Climb On: Gord McArthur puts muscle where his mouth is

Aug. 9th 2011

Professional climbers are a silly lot. Often it’s about being first, being fastest, the best, and so on. It’s very focused on me. And sometimes, well, it’s not about you. For SCARPA-sponsored, competitive mixed climber Gord McArthur sometimes it’s about showcasing your talents for the betterment of someone else. He just finished climbing a 35-foot practice wall for 24 hours straight, doing 634 laps, and climbing more than 20,000 vertical feet. In doing so, he raised nearly $18,000 in funds for Charlotte Amsling, a four-year-old friend of the family who has been battling cancer. “I was expecting to only raise about $7000,” he admits, “but we went way beyond that.” This was the second time McArthur joined forces with the Ronald McDonald House to help people in his town of Cranbrook, British Columbia. “I was inspired by a couple families who I know very well who utilize that service,” he says.

The climber and graphic designer got the idea from watching his friend and coach Will Gadd climb ice for 24 hours straight to raise money for common cause. A few years later he teamed with two friends to tag team the twenty-four hour time frame, but this time he wanted to do it solo. “I have daughters her age,” says McArthur, who believes that was a major driving force for his second go at climbing for a cause. The town also pitched in. “All the materials were donated for this event,” says McArthur, who constructed the wall with scaffolding, plywood, and climbing holds, most of which were sizeable
jugs. “That was a big inspiration for me,” he says, “to see how giving people were. If they couldn’t give financially, people donated their time and efforts.”

So, how was it? “Physically, it was certainly hard,” says McArthur, “but it didn’t push me to the limits of what my body can do.” To be sure, parts of his body did give him some trouble, and he did experience serious fatigue, but the mental side is what he found the most challenging. He kept a picture of Charlotte at the base of the wall to remind him why he was there. Nonetheless, the mental game was taxing him to his utmost. “It pushed me right to the edge,” he says. Mental exhaustion played tricks on him as the morning sun backdropped the final hours of his quest. “It was a battle to get through it,”
he says. “To ignore [the mental beatdown], I was grateful for the past couple of years to have Will teaching me how to trump this, because, without it, I’m sure I would’ve broke.” After his 634th lap, Charlotte and her mother walked to the base of the wall and handed a single flower to McArthur as the crowd cheered and wept.

Proceeds from the event to are split between the Ronald McDonald House and the Amslings, who can apply the money for travel expenses to hospitals, medical care and food, anything they see fit for Charlotte’s well being. McArthur says he believes in the Ronald McDonald House and wants to continue working with them, perhaps once a year, performing fundraising events for families in his community. Climbing for 24 hours has also given McArthur a head start on training for Europe’s mixed climbing’s World Cup competition series this coming fall.

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