Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sports Climbing

I have a fear of heights, but I think I conceal it neatly. Thankfully there's this sport that helped me conquer said fear:

Sports Climbing

It's easy! No, just kidding. But it is fun!

I took this class during a manual pre-registration session when I was still in my undergraduate years. UP's online registration is not that friendly with me. Anyhow, I thought this sport to be biased against short-limbed people such as myself. After the semester and with the help of the class instructor, I managed to debunk that by completing all the walls in the PowerUP Tandang Sora facility and finishing several route climbs.

The difficult walls in the Power UP Facility in Tandang Sora QC

The walls are made up of several panels. Wall difficulty is determined by the inclination of the panels that make up a certain wall. PowerUP has 7-paneled walls. The easiest wall has panels inclined inwards the wall or has very little inclination, if any. The hardest are those with panels increasingly inclining farther from the wall. In the picture above, Finals and Russian Pump have panels continually inclined farther from the wall. The latter is more difficult because of the roof (that overhanging segment that divides the wall). To illustrate why a roof makes a wall harder than a regular one:

This is me trying to overcome the roof in one of the hardest wall in the Power UP Centro Athletico gym. 
Sports Climbing is a highly physical sport, but it is also a highly mental one. It is easy to think that all you need in climbing is arm strength. I had this classmate who was a very explosive climber because of his upper body strength. By the time we were required to do route climbing, he illustrated clearly that arm strength is insufficient. To be a good climber one must possess several techniques, and most of them involve the legs and proper weight shifting.

Part of the mental exercise is having a grasp of how one should climb the wall. Before climbing, you must observe the wall. Figure out what hand-holds and foot-holds (those things that you hold/step onto) you will be using. It's easier to scale a wall if you have decided how to do it beforehand. It takes away the needless pressure of thinking which route to take.

Speaking of routes, a route climb allows only selected holds carefully marked by a colored tape. Route climbs are the advanced ways to go through seemingly easy walls. Imagine using only 8-12 holds in a 7-panel wall. You will be surprised that your body knows how to do a split.

Also, figuring out what holds to use beforehand is an advantage in conquering walls with a roof. A roof will easily deplete your stamina if you are stuck there figuring out what to do next. Core strength is also a key factor.

Another tip is to balance the way you use your arms and legs. Legs, having the bigger muscle group, are naturally stronger than the arms. Pushing from foot-holds to grab farther hand-holds is a very helpful technique. It's like climbing a ladder: you alternate using your hands and feet.

Both strength and endurance is vital. A helpful gauge to this is if you can lift your own body weight and for how long. Pull-ups and chin-ups are good body-weight exercises to enhance one's arm strength. Then you have barbell squats and leg presses for legs. Good abdominal strength (core) is also needed for ridiculously hard routes.

Last tip: concentrate but also enjoy. Concentrate on how you are going to climb a wall and also when you are climbing it. There is much joy in tapping the top of the wall and looking how far you are from the ground. Sports climbing is a great recreational activity especially with friends. Even beginners with have a great time. It also challenges one's own physical capabilities.

The best part of this sport is that you need to learn how to "let go". When you finish a wall, you must trust the belayer to safely bring you down. That requires you to let go from the hand- and foot-holds that you are clinging onto.

To Be Conquered Next: Camp Sandugo Wall @ Market Market!
As for gear, almost all facilities offer harness and shoe rentals for a minimal fee. Be sure to wear comfortable sports outfit (dry-fit shirt and shorts). Climbing fee varies, but it never goes beyond 200 pesos for a whole day (facility operational hours) of climbing.

Here's a few facilities that I've been to, and gladly recommend:

Power UP, Tandang Sora QC
Power UP Centro Athletico (Majority of the facility are badminton courts, if that's your thing.)
* Camp Sandugo @ 5F Market Market! (I have been here once, and the walls owned me. Two-roofed walls, sustained overhangs!)

No comments:

Post a Comment