Shrikrishna Kaduskar talks about the new fitness fad of indoor climbing walls and its health benefits — physical and mental
Are you an adventure junkie who spends much of your time in the wilderness and the rest of it in the gym building strength to pursue various sports? Well, indoor climbing walls are safely serving the purpose. Over the past few years, people are opting for climbing walls as a safe and family-friendly alternative for gym. With age no bar, these walls are garnering a lot of attention.
Shrikrishna Kaduskar who has been pursuing sport climbing for almost 20 years now feels that it is the most exciting option for the current crop of health-conscious people. He is the international judge for sport climbing and is a part of NGO Pimpri Chinchwad Mountaineering Association (PCMA) which has played a crucial part in introducing the sport to Maharashtra. Talking about the new fitness fad, Kaduskar says, “Sport climbing started as a practice for rock climbing in UK. Climbers wanted to train themselves to achieve tougher grades in climbing. In Europe, it was very difficult to practise for an entire year owing to climatic conditions, hence climbers invented a way to practise indoors by fixing pieces of woods and stones on walls. This technique became a common one in Europe. Slowly these structures were created by erecting walls exclusively for climbing and then the modern day climbing walls evolved.”
In Pune, the first ever competitive climbing wall was built in the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) limits and the second one was inaugurated at Shivajinagar, Pune. PCMA has produced several national champions in almost all catagories and disciplines by now. Sport Climbing will be the official sport at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Speaking of the health benefits associated with this sport, Kaduskar explains, “Sport climbing not only serves as a sport discipline but it is also an important tool in experiential learning programmes across the world. At an individual level, it helps in visual acuity, lateral movement, spatial perception, coordination, muscular strength, emotional control (fear), commitment (calculated risks), taking responsibility for safety, problem solving, observation, analysis, self-confidence, concentration and creativity.”
As a team, it prepares a person to look after their partner and builds confidence to work and lead a team. It also makes people work as a collective and co-operating with each other. Kaduskar also says that age is never a problem while starting out sport climbing. “My daughter who is five right now is actively pursuing the sport. It is also helpful for students who are emotionally challenged, aggressive, defiant, self-conscious, paranoid etc,” he explains.
There are various disciplines in sport climbing competitions. Lead climbing competition is the most popular discipline among climbers in which one has to climb a route of minimum 15 meters on lead — he has to clip the quickdraws and climb the route with belay from the bottom. The climber is given a specific time duration in which he has to climb the route. The competitor who climbs the maximum route across the axis in that duration is the winner.
Safety is always ensured here and in case of a fall, the belayer arrests the fall to save the climber from falling.
On the other hand, bouldering competitions are organised on specially designed walls which are three to five meters in height. The competitors have to climb a series of boulders in competition and no protection except mats placed on the floor exist. The bouldering discipline is termed as power climbing and is an exciting sport. Speed climbing is termed as the fastest event and due to the pace, it has become the most popular discipline of sport climbing within the spectators. You have to climb 10 or 15 meter routes as fast as you can. The one who achieves the lowest climbing time is the winner.
But even with all the enthusiasm and thrill it involves, Kaduskar says it is always best to learn from a trainer since they will teach you the techniques which will keep you safe. It is also important to have the right gears and safety harness for climbing the wall to be secure and unharmed.