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Philippe Ribiere climbs in Kalymnos, Greece. Ribiere is part of tonight's Paradox Sports lecture, "3 Men. 3 Histories. 1 Goal." at the University of Colorado.
Philippe Ribiere climbs in Kalymnos, Greece. Ribiere is part of tonight’s Paradox Sports lecture, “3 Men. 3 Histories. 1 Goal.” at the University of Colorado.

If you go

What: 3 Men. 3 Histories. 1 Goal.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: University of Colorado, Eaton Humanities, Room 1B50

Cost: $5 suggested donation

More info:

Philippe Ribière was born in Martinique and orphaned. After French parents took him in, he went through numerous surgeries during his childhood for Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, which he was born with. The condition affects one’s height, hands and feet, among other things.

Now Ribière is a professional climber.

“I knew this life is my life, and nobody can change my life,” he said of his childhood. “But I was sure that if I am here in this world, it is for something.”

Ribière will be part of Paradox Sports’ “3 Men. 3 Histories. 1 Goal,” a talk and slideshow on Thursday night at the University of Colorado, hosted by the CU Alpine Club.

“Paradox is essentially a group of people who come together to assist people with the adaptive process — their own and others’, whether that means, how do I adapt my lifeless legs to be able to climb a big wall, or how do I work on the fact that I’m amputated and now I have to kayak?” said Boulder resident and Paradox co-founder Timmy O’Neill.

O’Neill will speak during the lecture about his experiences climbing with his brother, who is paralyzed from the waist down.

“We’ve climbed El Cap together, there times, climbed Devil’s Tower, Castleton Tower, we climbed in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge last year,” O’Neill said.

“Because of the work I’ve done with him, I’ve had other people come to me (and say), ‘Hey, I’ve heard you do this, can you offer some advice?'”

Thus O’Neill co-founded Paradox Sports with U.S. Army Capt. D.J. Skelton, who was wounded in Iraq.

But a different soldier is part of the “3 Men” tour — Chad Butrick, the third speaker, had his leg amputated below the knee. O’Neill said Butrick will talk about gaining weight and then thinning down and learning to climb ice at a Paradox clinic in Ouray. This fall, he was part of a Soldiers to the Summit expedition to Lobuche, a neighboring peak to Mount Everest.

Ribière has taken more to rock climbing than mountaineering. He discovered climbing at age 17.

“I wanted to go in the bicycle club, because I was really strong in bicycling, and the guy looked me up and down and said, ‘No, I don’t want you in my club,'” he said.

“And then I went to a climbing gym, and the guy said, ‘OK, no problem.'”

O’Neill interrupted: “So you could’ve been the next Greg LeMond?”

“Yeah,” Ribière replied.

“But instead you’re the next Chris Sharma,” O’Neill said.

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