Rock climbing is catching on as the next big thing in the country for thrill seekers and fitness enthusiasts
When I decided to cover rock climbing as one of the adventure sports to be featured in this fortnightly series in Nepali Times, I thought it would be much easier than some of the other outdoor themes that have been featured like skydiving, canyoning or caving.
Wrong. Rock climbing so far has been the most challenging sporting activity I have ever gotten myself to try. It is not just physically demanding, but also puts your mind to the test. One has to be patient, focused and never afraid to make some quick leaps of faith to make it to the top.
‘Iman Ko Samjhana Ma’ (pictured above) is a curiously named limestone rock face in Bimalnagar along the Prithivi Narayan Highway. The four-stage wall is named after Iman Gurung a popular mountain guide. Niraj Karki of Astrek Climbing Wall says: “We honoured his contribution to the sport after his untimely demise by naming his favourite climbing face after him.”
Nora had warned me that climbing Iman Ko Samjhana was not recommended for a first-timer, but only after I had hauled myself over the 55m vertical face. The first phase was fairly easy as I had expected. It was moving from phase two to three that truly tested my drive for adventure.
Apart from agility, flexibility and overall stamina, the strength of the arms is especially key when it comes to rock climbing. For someone like me, who has always considered my strong legs were a good compensation for my frail arms, rock climbing soon turned into a daunting task.
It was the team work of Niraj and climbing partner Sebastian that kept me going.
There are currently two climbing gyms in Kathmandu Valley — Astrek Climbing Wall in Thamel and Initiative Outdoor Climbing Gym in Jhamsikhel. The first thing that climbing-enthusiasts do when visiting a new country is make a visit to the local climbing gyms. There they meet other climbers and make arrangements for a climbing trip,” explains Niraj. Chandra Ale from Initiative Outdoor says: “Many foreigners come to our gym, but there is a sudden rise in the number of Nepali youngsters coming to try their hands at climbing. It is a fantastic way to explore the many beautiful spaces in the country.”
Astrek Climbing Wall
Amrit Marg, Thamel
+977 1 4419265
Jhamsikhel, Moksh Premises
+977 1 2111505
Rock Climbing 101
Here are a few things to consider before taking on a rock climbing adventure.
Visit a climbing gym and practice your moves on the climbing walls before you actually take on the real deal. Much like a dress rehearsal before the finale show.
Fitness is key to indulge in the sport. Make sure you do your stretching, flexes and cardio for at least a week or two, to prep for the adventure. Take a bottle of water and eat well before you make the climb, as rock climbing burns up your calories real fast leaving you hungry and thirsty sooner than you expect. Rock climbing is a professional sport and must always be done under the guidance of professional climbing guides.
Where to go
Shivapuri and Hattiban are two popular rock climbing spots in Kathmandu Valley, and 100 km away is Bimalnagar. Climbing groups make regular visits to these walls and you can sign up with them. Manang and Mustang are two of the most popular rock climbing destinations for professional climbers. Khumbu region’s ice-climbing is another level of climbing, quickly gaining popularity with tourists and locals alike. But Nepal is a vertical country and anything can drive you up the wall.
Falling with water, Samriddhi Rai
Climb walls, Pratibha Shrestha and Pranaya SJB Rana
Let's Rock, Clare Hennig