Mountaineering: Get rocking!

Give this budding sport a try and you may just discover a new passion for life

Rock climbing is an upcoming sport in India and around the world. It first became famous in France, thanks to the daredevil late Patrick Edlinger, also referred to as ‘The spider man’ or ‘The blond adonis’. At that time, he conveyed through an impressive movie called La Vie au Bout des doigts [The life on the tips of fingers], what climbing was about—a complete lifestyle.

In the olden days, rock climbing in India was considered as part of training for mountaineering expeditions. It is only since the last decade that it has emerged as a sport. This new sport involves many ways of practice and approach. Under the term ‘climbing’ we may include:

  • Rock climbing: Practice climbing on natural rocks and cliffs, pre-bolted routes, in lead or top rope. This is for beginners and experienced climbers.
  • Sport climbing: Practice clim-bing on artificial walls/boulders [lead climbing or bouldering],  for beginners and experienced climbers.
  • Bouldering: Practice climbing on natural or artificial boulders.
  • Traditional climbing: This is an advanced level, in which you practise climbing in virgin and undiscovered areas in order to explore new routes.

A qualified instructor, proper equipment and regular practice are the key to a good start.

A good instructor

Unlike many other sports, this is not one that you can start off on your own. You need to be aware of the guidelines and safety. A qualified instructor offers you sound guidance, gives you confidence and can make you love this sport.

Many government institutions offer pedagogical training courses. You can enrol yourself for a basic mountaineering course at one of the various government mountaineering centres across India. The courses are simple but serve as a good introduction to the activity, so that you can check for yourself, in a friendly environment, whether you enjoy this sport. If you like the experience, you may want to sign up for one of the advanced courses.

I’ve noticed that even after climbers complete these training sessions, they often feel that it is not enough— in spite of learning various techniques. They yearn for a real teacher who can help them enhance their climbing skills. A good teacher is one who can design an individual plan for you—one that suits your aspirations and needs as a climber. He should be able to introduce you to new movements and techniques through the year. His job is to encourage the trainee to push her limits and improve her self-confidence, while respecting the safety boundaries.

Here are a few organisations that offer thorough training courses on mountaineering:

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