American aims to become first paraplegic to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

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Washington, September 21 (ANI): Chris Waddell, former Paralympian, is aiming to become the first paraplegic, on his own power, to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Paralyzed at 20 in a freak ski accident, Waddell, an American, went on to become the most decorated Paralympic skier ever.

"I was an athlete for a long time - as a Paralympic athlete, I competed in almost complete obscurity," Waddell told CBS News. "By getting to the tallest mountain out there, they have to look at me a bit differently," he added.

At 19,340 feet, Kilimanjaro is the tallest peak in Africa.

After a scouting trip to Africa last year, Waddell plans to scale Kilimanjaro just like any other climber. He plans to take five days to go up and two days to come down, on a highly engineered four wheel mountain bike.

To pedal over the boulders, each wheel moves separately.

"I'll go five feet and it will be like I just ran a 400-meter sprint," said Waddell.

His legs would be tucked underneath him and he would steer with his chest, choosing his route like a rock climber.

On the final push to the summit, Waddell will have to climb 4,000 vertical feet. To make that happen, he'll be secured to a winch and he'll pedal himself up a rope.

The fixed rope through a converted sailing winch will give him traction.

"The only thing you can think about at that point is one revolution, then stop and catch your breath," said Waddell.

In a project two years in the making, financed by grants and donations, Waddell assembled an extraordinary team in Crested Butte, Colorado, to help him train and refine his now near-indestructible bike.

An off-road racecar designer built the frame. An engineer and triathlete refined the gears and added wheels four times as big as his old ones - all under the guidance of expedition leader Dave Penney.

"I don't know if I have ever seen an athlete dig so deep and go so hard," Penney said of Waddell. "If Chris can do this, he is setting a new standard for anyone in a wheel chair," he added.

"I'm asking the world to see me, and the world to see other people like me," said Waddell. (ANI)

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