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Paraplegic Climbs Calif. Mountain

July 30, 1999

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) _ The first paraplegic climber to scale El Capitan reached the top of the 3,200-foot peak again, this time by hoisting himself up 6 inches at a time along a more difficult route.

Mark Wellman, 39, of Truckee, has had only partial movement in his legs since a 1982 climbing accident. The first paraplegic to scale El Capitan 10 years ago, he tackled the tougher ``Nose″ route this time, reaching the top about 8 p.m. Thursday.

It took 11 days for Wellman to reach the peak of the daunting mountain, said a spokeswoman, Robie Wilson. He had help from climbing partner Mike Corbett, who went ahead to set the ropes.

Wellman and Corbett, 45, started their ascent July 19, loaded down with 250 pounds of supplies. Wellman hoisted himself up by doing pull-ups on a special T-bar system.

Their goal was to reach the top in seven days, which would have put them on the summit July 26 _ 10 years to the day after their 1989 feat. Strong winds and difficult horizontal traverses slowed them.

``My message isn’t for the disabled to come and climb El Capitan,″ Wellman said before beginning his ascent. ``It’s to climb whatever mountain that is the barrier in their life. And that can be anything.″

Corbett said he and Wellman agreed to test the tougher ``Nose″ route _ the highest unbroken granite cliff in North America _ after taking the smoother, straight-up ``Shield″ route in 1989, which took eight days to climb.

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