My name is Philippe RIBIERE. In 12th March 1977 I was born in Martinique with the Rubinstein-Taby Syndrome and abandoned in an orphanage. During my first four years, I was constantly between the hospital and the orphanage to have multiple surgeries performed to attempt to remedy my handicap and help me with the functional mobility of my hands and my feet. The actual result is that my wrists are completely inflexible and I have no strength in my forearms.
At four years I was adopted and moved to Nimes, France with my foster family. Until the age of twelve I continued to get surgeries to follow corrections made by the first doctors in Martinique.
During my education, my adoptive parents took the choice to include me in normal school so I was never in the special center for handicap persons. I have always considered myself able to do the same activities of my brothers and sisters: swimming, football and running. As normal as I felt, I noticed some adults doubting me, laughing and looking at me like an Alien. My innocence disappeared…never mind, it was hurt.
At twelve years, I joined my brother to practice the running. During competitions, spectators supported me to finish my race like a normal runner. On somehow it was the first signal who showed me that my handicap could be like a bonus and an advantage.
At sixteen, I went to a summer camp and I practiced many sport like kayaking, trekking, biking and climbing.
For my first initiation into the climbing, we had to do a rappel, abseiling down on a fixed rope from height. I was scared at the idea of letting go and trusting the rope for the descent. But in the end I did it and I was so happy to know that I can use my hands for some extreme sports.
Weeks later, I wanted to join a biking club. Happy and innocent I went at a bike club. I opened the door of the club. I could even not ask my request, the responsible checked me up and down and said directly to me, “you are not welcome in my club”.
Next days and choked, I came to a climbing club near my house. A bit shy, I asked if I could join the club. Without problems and fears he says “you are welcome”.
Two years later at eighteen years I competed in the Youth National Championships competition with my climbing friends who motivated me to climb and to be proud to climb at this level of competition, to compare my abilities with others. I finished the last one but it was also the first time that the French climbing community saw a climber with some handicaps.
At this period the climbing had this secret wish to become an Olympic game and naturally I decided to push the international federation to create a new category for disabled climbers.
To do that in 2003 I created my Handi-Grimpe association to establish an event, where everyone can join with or without a handicap. The concept is to put an artificial handicap (blind, amputed members or else) at the normal people to understand a little bit what could be the handicap in their life. After 8 years, Handi-Grimpe is the only one event who have the recognition by the French medias, major industry brands and climbers.
Since then I have attended the most important contests in the world. I have developed lecture, events, pictures and a documentary made by a Slovenian film production. All theses actions was to share my handicap experience. My only goal is to give the smile at normal people and disabled persons that an handicap is not the end of the world. Every body can push his limits and be proud of his natural body. Now I am proud to be an ambassador for top outdoor brands like Petzl, La Sportiva, Lapis, Julbo, and Climb On and recently I am supported by RedBull.
Career highlights :
2003 : Founder of the Handi-Grimpe event to promote Paraclimbing
2005 : first “handicap” climber to practice Deep Water Soloing
2008 : Ascent of my first 7A boulder “Rumeurs Vagabondes”
2009 : Evolution Tour – Lecture tour for handicap and sponsored by the French Embassy
2010 : Participated at first official Paraclimbing compétition in Japan
2011 : 3rd in the World Championships in Arco
2012 : 7th in the World Championships in Paris
2013 : 3rd in in the European Championships in Chamonix
2014 : Speaker at Tedx in Paris
2015 : Exploring and filming in Oman – Arabian boulders