We got to climb at one of the best climbing crags in Wales and on a variety of rocks, everyday at new location. I lead lots of multi-pitch routes on quartzite, slate, volcanic rocks, dolerite, at sea-cliffs, on holyhead mountain, tremadog etc. We were paired with UK hosts, 80 of them were there to manage the entire event.
Only 20 international climbers from all over the world were selected for a week of “trad climbing” in North Wales, United Kingdom. They were mostly sponsored by their country federation but such provision is not available in India and finally Wildcraft agreed to fund me.
Trad climbing is a style of rock climbing in which the lead climber places all gear required to protect against falls, and the belayer removes it as he climbs up, you can’t find a single bolt on these routes. There are only a handful of “Trad climbers” in India and hardly any women doing it, compared to hundreds of sport climbers and mountaineers who have been climbing bolted routes for over a decade now.
This meet was a very good exposure for me and will be instrumental in making me professional alpinist that I aspire to be. I want to thank Hilary Lawerenson, President, The Pinnacle Club for the grant.
She also gave me opportunity to climb with Cath from Plass y Brenin, the topmost rock climbing training Institute in UK. There is so much to climb in UK, for all grades, that even a lifetime would seem too less to complete the thousands of routes which are established there. The weather is great, locations are scenic and the entire climbing community is very helpful.
It was inspiring to climb with so many elder women, of all ages, who were climbing really strong and were very supportive. I got to know more about the technicalities which are never taught to us here.
On one of the days, we climbed at sea-cliffs where the ambiance is so different, the waves gushing and hitting he rocks, there are continuous calls of sea-gulls, it was lovely at the same time quite extreme.
After the meet I did a Training Course to become the first certified SPA Instructor. Although I already work as Instructor, am good at doing such setups in wilderness and have been doing it outdoors for hundreds of events, I was still not sure whether I what I am doing is exact, how it can be improved and other technicalities. Hence doing this course was also a great experience for me to gain and imbibe International Standards, practices and procedures followed by world class climbers and mountaineers. Since I am looking to advance in my profession, these certifications and exposure would be of great importance. I was not able to fund for it myself so I took a loan from my friend.
I then went to London where I was sponsored by inZpiring horiZons, owned by Mishtu Tiwary, for training at one of the best rock climbing gyms in UK to learn about method of instruction, how the courses are conducted, etc.
The rock climbing gyms are so huge with hundreds of routes, so many holds and features and everyone is so interested to climb that the walls are open throughout the day.
While kids in our country go to restaurants to celebrate their birthdays, the 4 year old kid had brought his 8 friends to the gym to climb and celebrate it!
Even before coming to UK, she was constantly helping me choose the right kind of course, she talked to the gyms to allow me to shadow the Instructors there, get permissions for those training. I owe her a lot.
She also took me for a 10km run in the morning, where we covered all the important landmarks along the river in London. Photos on my facebook page.
I am trying to promote mountaineering and rock climbing as a “safe” adventure sport in India, to get more people into it. It’s very difficult to take this up as a career here, and all the more being a woman. Climbing scene is growing. More and more kids are going for treks and outdoor sports. It’s a task to find good rock climbing instructors whom we can rely on for safety and technical perfection. When I am myself trained, I will be spreading knowledge and awareness wherever and whenever I get opportunity to do it. I have shared all that I learnt with other Outdoor Educators here who do not have access to such much needed professional skills. I have to go back to UK for assessment next year to get the certification.
Next month I’ll be going to Himalayas for peak climbing expeditions, one of it is by Indian Mountaineering Foundation but we have to get our own high-altitude equipment, and the travel expenses and rent for it is huge so have to run for sponsorship again which is diverting my focus from training and workout and stressing me out. I also this loan to payback. Hopefully I get some sponsorship to go for it, without whose support climbing again will still be a distant dream.
I have always believed in Making It Happen… I dont have climber parents who have taught me since I was a kid and additionally, there are so many obstacles coming in the way, people nagging you down, orthodox mindset of community at large, these just tends to demotivate greatly but having faith in myself and a mad desire to keep climbing doesn’t let me stop… Wish to continue it, for my life!
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