Climber Conquers Cancer - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Climber Conquers Cancer

September 24, 2011 - Burlington, Vermont

Saturday, the world's best boulderers - rock climbers without ropes - gathered to compete beside the Burlington waterfront. The weather won - at least temporarily.

The Nor'easter Outdoor Sports and Music festival blew into town Friday. Ironically, Saturday the weather didn't cooperate. Rain washed out the semifinals of the bouldering competition in the morning but it didn't bring down the mood or dampen the atmosphere.

"Climbing is just one of the best things I've experienced, it's fun to watch," said Nikki Perkins. She's an amateur rock-climber from Delaware who came up to support friends entered in the competition.

The rain may have slowed down the pros, but Amy Brewer's two-year-old got a work out on a training wall. "I'm a little impressed, didn't know that she could do that," she said as the toddler continued to race upwards.

Paul Stauffacher may not be able to summit the rockwall like the pros, but he's faced one of life's biggest challenges: the threat of losing it.

In October of last year doctors diagnosed him with stage four Hodgkins-Lymphoma. He says he " had a "35% chance of making it through."

His best friend received a similar cancer diagnosis only a month later. "There were days at a time where I couldn't pick my head up off the pillow let alone rock climb," he said

But, once he regained strength, the shoe company Teva helped the pair complete a dream trip to Colorado. "It was our last big adventure," said Stauffacher.

His cancer is in remission, but his friend passed away this summer. "I said goodbye to 16 years of brotherhood, and I stand here to pay it forward and to tell everybody that you can survive," said Stauffacher.

It's a message he plans on spreading not only this weekend, but on a months-long walking trek along the beaches of the East Coast.

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