Text by: Priyadarshani Shrestha
Photos by: Arwind Chhetri
Pemba Sherpa, a 15-year-old boy born in Solukhumbu, had a very keen interest in sports, especially in cricket. At the age of 12, his dad, a retired mountaineer, took him to PasangLhamu Sports Climbing Centre, and from that day, his world changed. As he loved the sport’s challenge, he continued climbing, and 3 years later, he participated in many local and international competitions. Sherpa, who recently got selected to compete in the bouldering qualifying round of the World Championship organized by the International Federation of Sport Climbing in Mumbai, says, “Competing in the competition was fun, and a little bit scary. I tried the best I could but other participants from all over the world were just too good. But I enjoyed very much.” With a dream to become a successful individual, he wants to pursue a career in climbing and promote the sport. RushaPradhan, 18, has a similar story to share. Pradhan climbed for the first time 4 years back, and experienced mixed feelings about it. “Scary but thrilling, exhausting but fun,” she characterizes the sport. After completing grade 10, Pradhan started to climb more frequently, and after knowing about Astrek Climbing, she instantly became a member at the facility. Frequent climbing led her not only to participate in national competitions, such as Climbmandu 2, securing 4th position in the ‘Speed Category’ but also represented Nepal in international climbing arena. ‘Wall Climbing’ is becoming an increasingly popular form of rock climbing in Nepal, as the climbing, performed on artificial structures that attempt to mimic the experience of outdoor rock, gives climbing enthusiasts a superb experience.
Along with wall climbing, ‘rock climbing’ has been equally popular in Nepal, thanks to natural rock formations that allow climbing enthusiasts to treasure unique climbing experiences.
“Once an individual starts climbing, indoor climbing will not be enough,” says Vinayak Jay Malla, a 27-year-old climbing enthusiast who is wishing to promote the sport in other untouched areas of Nepal, clarifying, “Nepal is rich in beautiful landscape and utmost opportunities suitable for real rock climbing.”
He adds, “Nepal has so many untapped resources that could be holiday destinations for anybody. However, I have seen people, even Nepalese, spending loads of money for a vacation abroad when they could do more in Nepal on vacay, I want to change that.”
While there are so many natural destinations for rock climbing in Nepal, there are more opportunities to clutch international achievements, which are yet to achieve.
Realizing the competencies of enthusiastic climbers, various facilities have been offering climbing opportunities, even in discount rates.
Astrek Climbing Wall, Thamel, charges Rs 400 for climbing on Saturdays and on weekdays after 4 pm. From 10 am to 4 pm on weekdays, they provide 50% discount. Astrek offers membership for 3 monthsto a year, with the charges from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000. To encourage Nepali female climbers and kids to climb, the facility provides 50% discounts on membership fee for them. Along with it, they have collaborated with The North Face to send climbers to international competitions in Malaysia and Mumbai.
Similarly, responsible authority like Nepal Climbing Sport Association has been providing training and gears for free of cost. The association is preparing to install a 24 ft. portable wall, for lead climbing,speed climbing and top roping. They are however, planning to keep a minimum charge for this.
While Nepal is blessed with so much resources, authorities and governing bodies should widen their supporting hands, and bring out the best from the potential climbers. With less effort, bringing out the best is possible because we are the descendants of world renowned mountaineers who have scaled the world’s highest mountains for hundreds of times.
Best places for rock climbing in Nepal.
Nagarjun Forest, just near Balaju, the forest has a rock with 20 different routes with highest pitch of 20 meters. It has chimney climbs, overhangs and bouldering spots of varying difficulties.
Hattibanhas 8 very technical, challenging and top level grade climbing routes, and is about one and half hours’ drive from Kathmandu.
Kakanihas a small rock with 5 routes, best suited for beginners.
Thame, a village near Mt. Everest has rock at the altitude of 3,800 meters, and with 17 climbing routes with varying difficulties from 4c to 7c grades. This multi pitch rock of 200 meters is great for training and peak climbing.
Bimal Nagar is about 60 km away from Pokhara, and has 5 fixed routes and 4 pitch rock of 200 meters.
Sarangkotis a half an hour walk from Lakeside, Pokhara, and has a rock climbing center named ‘the 3 Sister Climbing Rock’ at Methlang village, with 18 varying routes from grades 4c to 6b. Its highest point is at 23 meters so it should be a good climb for climbers of all levels.
Best climbing and bouldering walls in Kathmandu
Nepal Climbing Sport Association: Located in Tripureshwor, this climbing wall only allows ‘bouldering’. Holds set on 12 ft. high and 16 ft. wide wall are good for beginners but climbers can make their own routes according to their levels. Hiring shoes and receiving training at the association established six years ago is free of cost.
Initiative Outdoor Bouldering Wall: Right next to Kar.ma Coffee in Gyan Mandala, Jhamsikhel, the facility, established 13 years ago, charges only Rs 230 for adults, and Rs 150 for children below 12 for climbing. With Rs 50, one can hire climbing shoes. The facility that opens from 8 am till 7 pm, also offers membership from the minimum fee of Rs 3,000 (for 1 month) to the maximum of Rs 10,000 (for 6 months).
Astrek Climbing Wall: Located in Thamel, the facility has 50 meters high top rope wall, and has over 20 routes. The facility has a small bouldering cave for kids and advanced bouldering wall for dyno moves.
PasangLhamu Climbing Wall: One of the oldest and most popular climbing walls in Nepal, the facility had remained closed for almost a year due to renovation plans. Located in Shankha Park, Ring Road, the facility is re-opening soon.
Balaju Rock Climbing Site: With about 15 routes that range from 5a to 7c and 2 part walls, one 15 meters and the other 10 meters, Balaju Climbing Wall is located within the Balaju Industrial area, a twenty minutes walk from Thamel. There is extensive “Bouldering” at all levels under construction, Top-Rope and Lead Climbing as well as more advanced Training areas. The facility charge Rs. 200 for climbing.
“Hard work and perseverance are the keys to succeed in anything.” – Pancha Maya Tamang,16, the national champion who participated in climbing competition only 2 days after making her first climbing attempt, and won the competition in ‘Speed Category’.
“When I climbed for the first time, I got mixed feelings. Scary but thrilling, exhausting but fun.” – RushaPradhan, 18, a climbing enthusiast who secured 4th position in ‘Lead Category’ in Climbmandu 2.
“I have climbed rocks in different places in Kathmandu. Manang was different and I had amazing experience there.” – Pemba Sherpa, 15