The Tribune - Spectrum

, September 8, 2002

Fun & adventure
Sport climbing not an uphill task

Tarun K. Roy

Sport climbing is practised on an artificial wall
Sport climbing is practised on an artificial wall (Photo by writer)

Sport climbing is a very young sport and was introduced in the nineties by the World Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA). A separate council named the International Council of Competition Climbing (ICCC) has been formed as the nodal body of the UIAA to promote, control and administer this sport all over the world through the member countries. Within a short span of time, this noble sport has become very popular in Europe and other countries.

This sport is held on a vertical artificial wall which may be either indoors or in an open space. The route of the climb can keep on changing by removing and resetting of the artificial holds, to make the route more difficult according to the different categories and rounds of the competitions. The international standard height of the wall is 12 m, as per the ICCC specification. The competitions are judged by a chief judge, category judge(s) and route judge. The route for the climb is decided by the chief judge in consultation with the chief route setter/or forerunner. All judges and the route setters must be technically qualified, experienced and licence holders.


What’s it about

There are certain ICCC international rules and regulations that are applicable for the climb and competitions. During the competition, a specified time is given for the climb according to the category and difficulty of the routes as decided by the chief judge. Also, there is a marking procedure followed by the category judges against the height reached by each climber. There are generally three categories of competitiors — junior boys, boys and men, according to the different age groups, and the same categories hold for female competitons. Four different types of competitors — are organised as — on-sight-difficulty competition, duel difficulty competition, speed competition and bouldering competition. On-sight-difficulty competition is more popular and generally organised everywhere. There are certain ICCC climbing techniques and rules which have to be learnt and followed by the climbers. The competitors have to wear a special kind of climbing shoes for climbing, a harness and approved uniform during the competition.

Low-risk factor

On the face of it, this sport looks very hazardous but its quite safe when one climbs with the proper equipment and follows safety norms and proper techniques. A climber climbs on the artificial wall by using an international standard climbing rope attached with the harness for personal safety under direct control of a person known as the belayer to ensure overall safety of the climber. Sport climbing is really a noble and different kind of healthy sport for the children and young people through which they develop confidence, concentration power, will power and physical fitness. Its a very exciting too as a climber on the vertical wall looks like spiderman!

At the world level, there are various competitions approved by the ICCC, such as Asian Championship, World Championship, World Cup, World Youth Championship, Continental Championship, Masters Championship, etc. At the national level, open and national championships are organised in the ICCC member countries.

Championship in Nov

This sport has picked up very fast in India wing to the promotional effort of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), the Indian National Mountaineering and Climbing Organisation. Different zones have been created by the IMF for promotion of the sport throughout the country as well for selection of the competitors through different zonal competitions for the national championship. Zonal-level and open competitions are organised in different states/zones and the national championship is organised once in a year at different venues rotationally, as decided by the IMF. The 7th National Championship was held at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, in November, 2001, and the 8th National Championship will be held at the IMF in November, 2002.

Sport Climbing was introduced in the country in the mid-nineties by the IMF. Within 7 years, it was gained immense popularity in the country. Now artificial walls are coming up at different places in schools, government and private institutions and even in defence and paramilitary organisations like the ITBP.

Where the facility is available

The climbing wall with sport-climbing training facilities are available at the following places:

IMF HQs complex, (New Delhi); Ramjas Sport & Mountaineering Institute (New Delhi); Pioneer Adventure Society, Bikaner (Rajasthan); Pune Municipal Corporation wall (Maharashtra); General Thymayya National Institute of Adventure Sports (Bangalore & Mysore); Salt Lake Indoor Stadium (Kolkata); Manipur Mountaineering & trekking Association (Imphal); Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (Darjeeling, WB); Nehru Institute of Mountaineering Uttarkashi, Uttaranchal), Himalayan Adventure Institute (Mussoorie); ITBP Mountaineering Institute (Auli); Indian Military Academy (Dehra Dun).

Also sport-climbing walls have come up at the DDA Sports Complex (New Delhi), Legend Inn (New Delhi) and at the different public schools — (Mira Model School; Vinoy Nagar Bengali School; Shyama Prasad Sr Secondary School) in Delhi; Cybernetic School for Intellectuals (Jammu); and Bishop Cotton School, Shimla.

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