Lonely Planet Writer

Crutches don't stop this thrill seeking Irish woman from climbing peaks and abseiling glaciers

Nikki Bradley is an Irishwoman who has been left on crutches after an aggressive form of bone cancer affected her mobility, but she doesn’t let that stop her from achieving her dreams and pushing her limits.

Diagnosed at 16 with a rare form of bone cancer she had two hip replacements by the age of 26. In chronic pain all the time and on a huge amount of medication, Nikki decided that it was time for a change. “By 2013 I was still on a good bit of medication for nerve damage. I got to a point where I decided to try exercise as an experiment.” After trying it out for three months Nikki’s pain levels were drastically reduced and she realised that this was the way forward.

Nikki during her 5km world record attempt.
Nikki during her 5km world record attempt. Courtesy of Gotspe Design

Since then Nikki has gone on to achieve more than she ever realised she could. “Because I was a crutch user I thought I could do nothing, but I realised that by doing these challenges and pushing myself I could let go of the idea of having limits.” Nikki has climbed many of the peaks and cliffs of Ireland, she has abseiled down 45ft glaciers in Iceland and has completed the notorious ‘Fan Dance’ hike in Wales that is usually reserved for the UK Special Forces.

Abseiling alone into an ice cave in Iceland
Abseiling alone into an ice cave in Iceland. Courtesy of Paul Doherty

Her next adventure will see her climbing four of Ireland’s peaks with Iain Miller in less than 24 hours; one in each of Ireland’s four provinces. It will require a lot of planning, helicopters, speed and endurance. None of which will be an issue for Nikki who actually enjoys the adventure more if it is extra challenging.

Nikki’s advice to others who may feel trapped by their disability or illness is: “Do some research and find some events that are uplifting. There are so many out there and it really helped me to be with other people that have done something I wanted to do.”

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Image by Courtesy of Ken Jones

Nikki also loves to take challenges from the public so if you can think of one send her an email!

You can find out more about her adventures here.