Local Special Olympian Sets Sights on Mount Rainier

Patrick Kral never says ‘no to a challenge.'

Submitted release by Jean Miller, 
Family Support/Public Relations Director for FAVARH

Patrick Kral is a 32-year-old man whose motto is: “I never say no to a challenge!” In 2010, he became the first Special Olympian to winter-summit Mt. Washington. His next climbing goal is an August 2012 summit attempt of Mount Rainier.

Patrick wants to climb for the rest of his life and he hopes to someday be the first Special Olympian to summit Mount Everest. Climbing mountains gives him the confidence and skills to overcome the other challenges in his life.

Patrick lives in Avon with the support of the  and works in their firewood business. While Patrick does struggle in some areas of life, and who doesn’t, he excels in others. He has completed 12 marathons and unlike most long distance runners, Patrick actually likes hills. In 2007 and 2012 he competed in the road race up the Mount Washington auto road. He finished in the top third of all competitors in 2007. His climbing excursions have taken him up the tallest peaks in New England as well as several serious hikes out west. An avid skier, snowshoe user and camper, Patrick has yet to venture into high-altitude climbing.

“It is something I’ve always wanted to do” he says. “I’m up for a challenge. Bring it on.”

This past October, the day before the early winter storm, Patrick went skydiving, a life long ambition of his. Clearly, this is a person who lives life to the fullest despite his limitations.  

Mt. Rainier will be Patrick’s first high altitude mountaineering experience and a reasonable ‘next step’ for his high altitude climbing ambitions. To accomplish this challenge, a team of experienced high altitude mountaineers has been assembled and Patrick has begun a special training program. The entire support team is volunteering their time to train, encourage, and support Patrick in this effort.

According to Expedition Leader and Canton resident Walt Hampton, “This is an exciting opportunity to assist an engaging, enthusiastic, and athletic young man to accomplish something heretofore restricted to the realm of only the most intrepid of mountain climbers.”

With more than 40 years of global mountaineering experience on many of the world’s tallest peaks, Walt believes that with the proper training, equipment, and support team, Patrick can accomplish this and be the first person with an intellectual disability to summit Mount Rainier.

Patrick understands that having the right support team in place is only half of the challenge. “They’re not going to carry me up”, he jokes. “I have to get myself up the mountain with my own two feet.”

Mount Rainier is a massive stratovolcano located 54 miles (87 km) southeast of Seattle in the state of Washington. It is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States (and the second tallest), with a summit elevation of 14,411 ft (4,392 m). Mountain climbing on Mount Rainier is difficult, involving traversing the largest glaciers in the U.S. south of Alaska. Most climbers require several days to reach the summit. 

Preparation for the climb has been underway since late 2011. This has included a long weekend winter-camping in the White Mountains practicing mountaineering skills such as fall-arrest, crampon use, and climbing on a roped team. Patrick is also adhering to a rigid training schedule that now includes running 20 to 25 miles each week and carrying a weighted pack while using the Stair Climbing machine at Valley Fitness Center in Unionville. Patrick has worked hard to drop 15 pounds in to get to his ideal climbing weight.

Patrick struggles with many of the things that you and I take for granted such as keeping a job, living independently, and being able to drive. However, focusing on his ‘skills’ rather than his ‘weaknesses’, has ironically led to incredible improvement in both areas of his life. The self discipline, the focus, and the skill development needed to do the things he most wants to do (mountain climbing and running) have naturally carried over to work and independent living skills. Patrick has learned to truly embrace all aspects of his life and has become a mentor for his peers. Patrick has discovered that he thrives on the positive feedback that he receives from these and other accomplishments. He’s addicted to success!

According to FAVARH's Executive Director Steve Morris and fellow expedition team member “When someone exceeds our expectations… we’re surprised. When someone does it more than once… we’re impressed. When someone keeps doing it… we’re inspired.” Patrick’s goals and accomplishments should be an inspiration to everyone who hears his story.

Major sponsor of the expedition include the Avon-Canton and the Farmington Rotary Clubs. The Team departs for Seattle on Aug. 11. Good luck Patrick and Team!

Contributions to Patrick’s Mount Rainier expedition expenses can be sent to: The Arc of the Farmington Valley, P.O. Box 1099, 225 Commerce Drive, Canton, CT 06019. 

Steve Morris August 02, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Climb on Patrick! Keep inspiring us.


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