Vokkero Squadra used for disabled climbing by Mathieu Barbe

… both to clearly hear the instructions from his guide, to intervene when necessary and to be able to move freely on the climb with both hands free despite his disability.

What a long road has been travelled since 2011! After becoming partially sighted following a serious via ferrata accident (thanks to a defective safety strap), it was only thanks to his iron will (with a month spent in a coma followed by a year’s physiotherapy) and the unswerving support of his family and friends that Mathieu Barbe managed to turn things around, and in early 2013 joined the French disabled climbing squad in the visually impaired category.

A passionate enthusiast and a hard worker, to improve his abilities Mathieu Barbe now uses our Squadra communication system. It offers many benefits but as he explains these differ depending on whether he is practicing his sport indoors or outdoors.

Indoors, the climbing level is extremely high. Audio guidance is crucial. To be effective he must be ultra-fast, the instructions extremely clear, time lags inexistent and audio interference between the top level athlete and his coach impossible. The Squadra system perfectly met these requirements. Equipped with this system, the guide located at the bottom of the climbing wall can stay concentrated and thanks to the filtering of ambient noise can clearly state where and how far away the hook points are located, etc., and the best places to go in order to complete the route.

Outdoors, the level of climbing ability is lower but the exposure to danger is higher. Linked by ropes, people climb the rock face together and look after one another mutually. Sometimes they’re too far away and can’t see each other, can’t hear each other and are unaware if they are moving forward or if they are blocked, etc. With the Squadra system, these problems are avoided and the climbing conditions are very different for the whole roped party. The guide climbs first and thanks to the system can tell the others what they need to do or to come through during the climb. Safety is improved as a result.

Selected for the International Mountain Film Festival, Mathieu Barbe’s film “La vue au bout des doigts” perfectly illustrates this (in particular, don’t miss the climb up the Dent du Géant’).

Please note: the French disabled climbing squad is attached to the French Federation of Mountain and Climbing Sports or “FFME” and not the French Federation of Sports for the Disabled (Fédération handi-sport ). Consequently, the members of the French disabled climbing team have the same equipment and enjoy the same status as able-bodied sportsmen and women. They participate in the same competitions, in which they simply represent a category.

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