By Jamie Leary
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – A renowned big wall climber, injured after falling from El Capitan in Yosemite National Park one year ago, is doing everything she can to get back to normal.
Quinn Brett, 38, works for the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, she is writing for Patagonia, making instructional Yoga videos for people with Spinal cord injuries, and as she did before her injury, helping with high alpine rescues.
She recently helped coordinate search efforts for a missing hiker on Longs Peak.
“To me, that’s where my heart lies, helping people and still being active in the park that way,” said Brett.
Brett has also gotten back into swimming, another passion of hers.
“I dare anyone to swim 25 [meters] with no legs!” she laughed from the pool.
She is constantly searching for a way to feel the burn in her lungs she used to.
“I miss running uphill and being red in the face and coughing after a big long run.”
She has now added biking and horseback riding to her list of activities. She has come a long way, but says she has a hard time feeling proud.
“Just because of the person that I was before, and the things that I’m doing now seem almost mundane.”
She thinks about the accident all the time. She still can’t remember what exactly happened.
“I don’t know still and that’s what sucks. The truth is, it was my fault.”
She recently came across the shirt she was wearing the day it happened. It was a tank top and despite having a shirt on over it, the tank top was destroyed.
“That tank top is completely shredded on both sides of my back and knowing that that’s what my body went through…”
It’s not an easy reality to face. Prior to falling, Brett took solace in the fact that she didn’t need help. Now, some days, she feels more vulnerable than ever.
“I had to learn how to do things like a child. I had to learn how to drive again…”
Brett has had some major mental hurdles to get over but she continues to push herself.
“So I get out of bed and then once I’m out of bed it’s like, alright what am I gonna do? Let’s make this day the best day that I can.”
Her love for the outdoors hasn’t changed one bit.
“People think that I’m in a chair that this is where I am, like… no, the outdoors is still very much a part of my life and something that I can get into and a lot of people in this position can.”
The pool helps, but so does climbing. She is not only climbing again but she is helping others as well.
While she says she’s not an inspiration, she does want others to know being disabled doesn’t mean being incapable.
Brett is speaking with other accomplished athletes from the outdoor world about wilderness medicine and survival.
The talk, called “Untamed: Wilderness as Medicine, Medicine in Wilderness,” will be held at the Colorado Mountain Club in Golden on Nov. 7.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.