Warren Macdonald – Climber and outdoorsman


Before you watch Johnny’s interview with Warren, here’s what you should know about Warren…

Warren Macdonald was no stranger to adventure when he set out on a backpacking trip to an island off the northeastern coast of Australia in April 1997.  An experienced outdoorsman and avid environmentalist most of his life, Warren had spent countless hours in the wild.  But what he didn’t know at the time was that this fateful trip would change his life forever.

During his climb to the summit of the island’s highest peak, a 2000-pound boulder became dislodged and plunged to the creek bed below, taking Warren with it and pinning him beneath.  After spending two days in absolute agony, rescue crews finally arrived just in time to save his life, but not his legs.

After months of recovery in the hospital, Warren was beginning to absorb the prospect of his new life without legs, concerned about what that meant exactly and how his life might play out.

“One of the things that terrified me was this idea that now that I was ‘disabled,’ they would try and kind of put me in a factory stuffing boxes full of soft toys,” he says.  “I mean, that just scared the shit out of me – the whole idea that that could happen.”

Equipped with an iron resolve and determined that a life of disability wasn’t an option, Warren began forging a new life for himself before he even left the hospital.

“I had doctors say, ‘You won’t be able to walk with prosthetics at all,’” he says.  “And that was the kick in the ass that made me convinced I’m absolutely walking out of this hospital.  That’s one thing for me that tends to push me: when somebody says that something is not possible.”

Not only was he able to walk out of the hospital, within 10 months he was able to climb again.  Since his accident, Warren says he’s done more than before he lost his legs, climbing some of the world’s highest peaks, including Mt. Kilimanjaro and America’s tallest cliff face, El Capitan.  It’s the challenge, he says, that keeps him going.

“It’s interesting,” he says, “because [this experience] proves to me that no matter what happens to you, not only can you reclaim your life and get back to where you were, but you can actually build on it and make yourself stronger.”

Below is the video of Johnny interviewing Warren.

Download audio MP3 file (Right-click and choose “Save Target As…” or “Save File As…”)


Download the transcript of this interview (PDF)


  1. I came over from Sandra’s blog. My daughter was born without a right hand, played basketball and soccer in college and now does triathlons. I don’t like to watch when she’s swimming in the ocean in a sea of crazy athletes but she continues to amaze me with what she accomplishes in her life. Check my post today. I wrote about her.

  2. Amy says:

    Tess, You should nominate her!

  3. Phil says:

    Inspiring — thank you Warren for sharing it with us!

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