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8A by almost blind Justin Salas going for 9a 
 

Click to Enlarge PictureClick to Enlarge PictureJustin Salas has about 10% of his central vision left, after his optic nerves began to atrophy at age 14. With his peripheral vision, mainly intact, he can see the overall shape, contrast and shadows. Three years ago, being 22 year old, a friend took him to the local gym and he got hooked climbing every day and after six months he started to work as a route setter. (c) William Bazargani - Salas doing Worm Turns 8A and (c) Andrew Edwards

"One of the employees at the gym put a wrench in my hand and showed me the basics. I was hooked ever since. Setting is a pretty interesting process for me. Most of the time, I'll start by setting a position then figuring out how best to move into the next position. I do this mostly out of feeling and then by using what vision I have left to dial the rest in. I think I'm unique in this way because I rely so heavily on the way the climb feels and not so much on how it looks. "

How do you deal with fear of not finding the last holds on a boulder?
I've always felt like if I'm not scaring myself and getting out of my comfort zone, then I'm not truly progressing. That being said, I'm definitely not a reckless person. Usually, every move is carefully rehearsed and I have all of the micro-beta dialed in. Although when I'm working a highball rig and I don't have the option of feeling out the boulder on a rope, this is when I have to solely rely on my sight-guide to call holds for me. The most mentally taxing part is often the time waiting for my caller to direct me to my next position. In these moments my mind wanders and I find myself having doubts, whether it be the pain in my fingers, the height of the boulder, or how run out I am. The challenge is shutting these thoughts off and quickly refocusing to continue moving up.

What is your long-term goal?
I want to help usher in a new wave of elite-level adaptive climbers alongside me, who are respected just as much as the able-bodied athletes in the community. Yes, I do have grade goals, and life list lines I want to climb, but I seek to be a master of stone. I always push myself to climb routes that highlight my weaknesses, not just the ones that play to my strengths. In doing this, I feel I'm better preparing myself for the big objectives. Some of these objectives include being the first adaptive climber to send 8b+ boulder or harder, and 9a routes. Alpinism and big wall climbing are also on my list of future pursuits. I plan to continue competing; I enjoy the process of testing myself against the world's best, and aiming for the title of world champion.

P.S. Would it be possible to say "special thanks to Ellie Priester? She helped me dictate this write up, while my computer was having trouble.