Five years ago, Dane could be found outside in the hills for a very different reason from climbing. Instead of heading upwards, he lived for the journey down – on two wheels. He was making connections in the sport of downhill mountain biking; building tracks, travelling Europe and racing down some of the toughest tracks in the UK. That all stopped, however, when Dane had a huge crash.

Having severed all of the veins and ligaments in his left hand, all the function and dexterity he had built up was gone. He could no longer grip a handlebar as he bumped and rattled down the tracks that he used to fly down. His friends returned to the tracks they had built, and started the next season without him. After training intensively with the help of a friend, Dane managed to get back on to a bike, but after testing the water up at Fort William, Dane was ready to walk away from mountain biking all together.

Fortunately, Dane’s training partner just so happened to be related to our very own Owen, who is a walking guidebook and early champion of the Hangar. He suggested climbing as a way of rehab. Despite his fear of heights, Dane followed Will to The Climbing Hangar, where he experienced pulling on plastic for the first time. And he loved it. Will introduced him to Owen, who in his own words ‘was the Obi Wan Kenobe to my Anakin’ (except he wouldn’t turn evil). Dane got comfortable on real rock, and was soon heading up the mountains rather than down them.

It got to the point where Dane had to remind himself that he ever had a hand injury. Climbing gave him a whole new circle of friends, and the shared experience is something that Dane loves about climbing. Last year, Dane acquired a new partner in climb, his son, Kasra, who has already visited The Hangar and dangles off the holds on Dane’s own home board. He is looking forward to watching Kasra find a second home in the climbing community, just like he did.

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