LIKE A SPIDER ON THE WALL

For those who have a knack for climbing things, be it a ceiling-high cupboard, a tree, or wrought iron gate, you might want to give wall climbing a go.

An eight-year girl was climbing the mammoth wall at Astrek Climbing Wall in Thamel as I entered the premises. My first thought was, “I cannot do this.” My second thought however compelled me to rethink, “Maybe, I will make it to three feet above the ground.” The end result of this feat left me and a lot of onlookers surprised.

Wall climbing is a physical activity that has been gaining a lot of popularity in Nepal since the past few years. More of a training and practice activity for professional rock climbers, wall climbing is an arduous but fun sport. The wall is usually made of thick multiplex board or even bricks that are fitted with climbing holds of different colors.

As a novice, a little surfing of the Internet reveals that there are three forms of wall climbing: Top-Roping, Bouldering and Lead-Climbing.

Bouldering

In layman term, it is free climbing. There are no harnesses or safety ropes attached onto the climber. It solely depends on the climber’s muscle strength to weave their route to the top. Only, the top isn’t very high. The wall for bouldering isn’t very tall and encourages climbers to improve their strength and technique, before they take on the tougher challenge. This is an introduction to wall climbing and is just pure fun.

Lead-Climbing

It is a climbing technique, wherein the climber is attached to a stretchy rope, which is held at the other end by a belayer, a person who manages the rope. As the climber makes the ascension, the belayer has the harnesses attached to a fixed protection by clipping in the rope to it. This is more of a pro-climbing amidst the three forms. It takes technique, precision and quick route fixing.

Top-Roping

This is something everyone can do. A climber is safely attached to a rope via harness and a belayer has the other end of the rope attached to them, so that in the event of a fall (which you will, eventually) the climber doesn’t slams down to death. This is the way to go for a newbie who has no experience in climbing, although it is great for experienced climbers too. It challenges your stamina, your technique and your route solving ability.

My Experience

Needless to say, I took Top-Roping form of the climbing. I was half-anxious and half-worried as I put on the rock shoes and the harness. As I watched another eight-something year old girl go half way up to give up, I said out loud, so as to let everyone around know that I am a beginner and save my face upon failure, “I think I will make it halfway to where the little girl has reached.”

I positioned my limbs to the most comfortable holds on the wall and made my move upwards. Rapid and steady, I tracked my routes and when I couldn’t my belayer guided my moves from the ground. Now, the act of wall climbing involves a lot of limb power, especially the leg. You don’t pull yourself by yours arms but push yourself up with your legs. It is said that girls are better at wall climbing than boys because girls tend to use their legs to push while climbing, whereas boys tend to use their arms to pull. This choice of limb makes all the difference. If you pull too much, you end up with tired arms too soon. But if you are a beginner like me with no climbing experience and very little exercise, the chances are that you will end up with tired and cramped arms halfway through. I nearly gave up on the feat until I heard the cheering from my belayer below. After a few minutes’ rest and some quivering hanging-in-the-air moments, I resumed the climbing and made it to the top to ring that victory bell.

Coming down was easy and fun. It took no effort because I was swinging down as the belayer smoothly let go of the rope I was harnessed to. After some resting on the ground, I took it up for the second time; this time a lot more confident and knowledgeable about climbing a wall.

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