Steve Bate has only 10 percent field of vision is visual impaired and registered blind (Retinitis Pigmentosa), yet in June 2013 he became the first visualy impaired person to solo El Capitan in Yosemite, California. Steve was in Yosemite for just over three weeks in June and climbed Zodiac in a push of 31 hours with Andy Kirkpatrick, Lurking Fear over 3 days with Andy and Alwyn Johnson (Aussie Johno). Then over 6 days he soloed the routev Zodiac, in doing so becoming the first registered blind person to Solo El Capitan.
“Climbing is something I really love, so I hope never have to give it up. I’m certainly going to make the most of it, while I still can. I just hope it helps to inspire people, especially with disabilities, to believe that anything is possible if they set their minds to it. If I can do it, anyone can.
Following this achievement, Steve decided to take on a new and completely different challenge. In the Summer of 2013 he trialled for the GB Paralympic cycling squad, pedalling as a visually impaired athlete on the back of a tandem bike with the ultimate dream of competing in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. In Autumn 2013 he was accepted onto the GB Development Squad, and spent the next 12 months balancing a full-time job with cycle training for 20 hours a week and trying to keep his wife in the mix! During those 12 months, Steve and his sight pilot Adam Duggleby became the British Champions in both the UK Road and Time Trial Championships, won the European Tandem Tour of Holland and came third in the Tandem Tour of Belgium.
“…..with Steve it was really different, because it wasn’t him and I this time, it was all him and I was really jealous. You can really only solo El Cap once, even though I’ve soloed it three times it's that first experience you can never get back.” Andy Kirkpatrick
In November 2014, Steve and his wife Caroline decided to move from North East Scotland to Manchester so that Steve could be much closer to the Manchester Velodrome, the home of British Cycling, and could focus fully on training and competing. In December 2014 he was accepted onto the GB Paracyling Podium Squad, when meant that he could become a full-time cyclist, something he never dreamed of.
2015 will be a pivotal year for Steve and Adam, with their performance in the national and international races determining whether the 2016 Paralympic dream has a chance of becoming a reality.