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Rock climbing is a thriller

By Tahir Imran Khan

You can learn to play chess or learn the rules of cricket from a book in your armchair but you can not learn to climb rock from there. Every situation in rock climbing is different, every piece of rock, every move, every change in weather demands a different kind of action. This can be learnt by building experience in a practical situation.

Rock Climbing is one of the most popular sport in western countries among the adventure enthusiasts. On weekends several thrill seekers go outside from their homes to practice this challenging game. Previously it was possible only in mountains where good quality rocks were available but nowadays it is equally popular as an indoor game as there are now several artificial walls which give an impression of an original rock. These artificial rock walls are available for practice in most of the gymnasiums and sports complexes. However, there is a saying that "best training for rock climbing is rock climbing"

Popularity of the game has turned it now into a competitive game and different organizations and clubs organize tournaments and competitions on regular basis. Despite from its appearance as a dangerous game, it is quite a safe game, if played properly and carefully. For rock climbing, it is not necessary to be a body builder with muscular wings or very well built shoulders, but it needs a basically fit and balanced body only.

Equipment required for the rock climbing is quite simple and not too much expensive. However availability of the equipment in our country is a little hectic job. The basic equipment required is being listed below;

  • One piece of rope (usually 50 meters long and 9 to 11 mm in diameter)
  • Harness (sit or shoulder)
  • Carabiners
  • Figure of eight
  • Rock climbing shoes (optional)
  • Pitons for anchorage

The above mentioned items can be searched from the bazaars of Gilgit and Skardu which are the kick points for the treks of several famous mountains and peaks of Northern Areas. Otherwise these items can be imported from abroad. Apart from these items you need two more very important things i.e. a rock face and a pair of climbers.

In Pakistan, like all other adventure sports it was almost unknown game in the last decade but it is becoming quite popular now in a certain circle specially among youth. There are few organizations which offer training courses for rock climbing. The more active is definitely Adventure Foundation Pakistan, based at Abbottabad, which is working under the dedicated command of Brig. (Retd) Jan Nadir Khan. The second one is Alpine Club of Pakistan, which is supposed to control the mountaineering activities in Pakistan but due to non availability of infrastructure, this prestigious club is quite inactive.

The Adventure Club, is a private club, started with the main activity of trekking but after a long experience and with the help of skilled and seasoned members, is now able to organize Rock Climbing training camps on regular basis. The adventure club has arranged training courses at Margalla Rocks, Siadpur Rrocks, Khanpur Rocks and Karyana-Chenab Rocks, so far. Margalla and Karyana - Chenab pitches were specially cleaned and prepared by the efforts of the adventure club.

In previous years several members and non-members participants have learnt to climb rocks while participating in training camps organized by the adventure club. Is this that the club is successful to introduce this game among females also and several training clinics have been arranged exclusively for girls. Miss Khadeeja Atta, a famous rock climber and hot air balloonist, a member of the club, is the instructor for the training of girls groups. Miss Durdana Syed, Miss Amna Khan and Miss Nausheen Khan are few participants who have shown great interest in the game and have performed very well so far.

Rock climbing as a sport or hobby means to climb a rock with a safety rope. Although while climbing the climber do not get any help form the rope but it is just for the safety and in case of any emergency, the safety rope holds the climbers and keep him safe from a serious accident. The game is so safe that average weight of a person is approximately 70 to 80 kilograms according to international standards and the equipment used in rock climbing is usually good to hold a weight of 2500 kgs to 3000 kgs, just imagine the safety measures used in this game are so secured. However one should be very careful about the strength of the anchor. If the anchor is not fixed properly then all the safety measures are in useless so we can say that anchoring the rope is the most important portion of this game.

Anchors are of different types. It could be made of iron pitons or a natural hold by tying the rope around a strong boulder or rock. There are different sizes of metal pitons available, according to the size of the crack, the climber finds in the rocks. He has to fix the piton of exact size and then to check whether it will hold the weight of his body or not? It was advisable to make double anchor for extra safety. After making a good anchor climbing can be started.

Normally, it is a game of pairs so two friends of very good understanding are suitable as a climbing pair. The active one is called climber, and the passive one who is controlling the rope is called belayer.

Rock climbing, as a sport in Pakistan is getting popularity. Further information and procedure to participate in training course is available on direct request to the Adventure Club, P.O. Box 2072, Islamabad - Pakistan.

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