"Belayers ready?.." "Judges Ready?.." "Climbers! On your marks... Ready... GO!!!!!"
The resonating sound of that call in utter silence, before the eruption of chaotic cheers, is a moment so blank yet enthralled with such intense energy that one just can’t look away as fearless climbers take on the challenging wall.
Technical, creative, control, intelligence, stamina, strength, endurance, flexibility & determination are a few words that come to mind when you see climbers carry out their lucid thought process & engaging techniques on the wall.
The routes were designed with devious perfection & clever sequences which inspire a climber or two or in this case 188 climbers and their supporters, all keen to see the outcome of the zonal sport climbing competition held @ Emerald Heights International School, Indore from 25th to 29th October 2017. This was a state level competition held across 7 zones in India. The top three winners in each category advance to the nationals.
Sport climbing is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors fixed to the rock for protection. The athletes are required to perform in the following three formats:
A brief history of the sport
Sports climbing is a relatively new sport with the first competitions being held in the 1940s. These events were focused on Speed Climbing, and were mostly dedicated to Soviet climbers until the 1980s. In 1985, in the Olympic town of Bardonecchia, Italy, not far from Torino, Andrea Mellano, a member of the Academic Group of CAI, and Emanuele Cassarà, a well-known Italian sport journalist, gathered a group of the best climbers for an event called "SportRoccia" held at a natural crag in Valle Stretta. It was the first organized Lead competition, launching a new era of modern Sport Climbing. Thousands of spectators were amazed by the victory of German athlete Stefan Glowacz.
Sport climbing—today’s most popular form of roped climbing—was a highly controversial practice during its early inception in the 1980s. During this time, sport climbing pioneers such as Alan Watts scoured the walls of Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park to find lines that could be established using bolts drilled into crack-less rock faces. In the early 90s, several large events were organized in all the main arenas of Europe, as well as in Japan and the US. During these years, it was decided that International events would be run only on artificial walls, in order to eliminate any environmental impact.
In September 2015, Sport Climbing was officially proposed as a new sport for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by the Tokyo 2020 Additional Event Programme Panel. In 2016, Sport Climbing is officially confirmed as an additional sport for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by the IOC Session. Along with four other sports, including Baseball, Softball, Karate, and Surfing, Sport Climbing is accepted into the program of Tokyo 2020.
Sports Climbing is now set to make its debut at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, two years ahead of its inclusion in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Sports Climbing in India
Sport climbing in India started back in the 1980s, when foreign climbers visited and gave Indian mountaineers the opportunity to climb overseas and brought climbing specific equipment with them. The sport soon took off and training walls were built and more athletes pursued the sport in India.
December 1993 – Ironman & Climbing Guru Mohit Oberoi developed the first 15 meter lead climbing wall at the Mira Model School, Janakpuri, New Delhi. Ever since then the sport has made steady progress with over 150 walls built across the country and the sport percolating to places across the country.
The sport has been the foster child of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, which has a substantial role in funding and developing it in India. The IMF is a national body that governs adventure sports in India, established in 1957. It organizes, supports, and provides a base for mountaineering, skiing, rock climbing and trekking both at competition levels, as well as expeditions. The IMF works closely with the Ministries of Sports, Home, Defense, Tourism and Environment of the Government of India. It provides accreditation and permits to all foreign climbers seeking an expedition in the Himalayas. It is also involved in organizing international conferences, training programs, and various environmental protection projects in the Himalayas.
IMF is also the prime regulator of the sport in India and does so through its Sport Climbing Committee. This committee further directs the functioning of the Zonal Committees.
India also held the IFSC World Cup at Navi Mumbai in June 2017.
The event was held at Emerald Heights International School, Indore. With fantastic infrastructure the schools makes it to the top 10 day/boarding schools of India. Spread over 125 acres the school has been beautifully designed with international standards sporting facilities available to all the students. The 15 meter climbing wall adjoining the castle like preschool building was the highlight for the five day event.
The climbing wall was designed and implemented by “Stepin Adventure” based out of Pune. They are currently developing a 25 meter bouldering wall at the school to be used in the upcoming sport climbing nationals. The entire competition was managed by a team of judges, volunteers spearheaded by the Mr Shripad Sankalp (Organiser & Judge), Ms Prajakta Ghode (Judge & Recorder) & Mr Nitin Khanna (Overall Incharge)
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh & Goa
The competition was realised with all the registered participants competing in all 3 disciplines of Sport Climbing i.e. Lead, Speed, Bouldering
Col. HS Chauhan – SM, VSM – President - Indian Mountaineering Foundation (New Delhi)
He talked about the future of sports climbing in India. He cited the IMF sports climbing committee and its various initiatives including regular monitoring of athletes performance to gear up India for Tokyo 2020.
Guests of Honour:
Ms. Poorna Malavath (Youngest Everester) - "I think the competition climbing will make an excellent Olympic sport."
Mr. Shekhar Babu (Three 8000 Meter Peak summitter including Everest)
Mr. Soni – Vice President – Madhya Pradesh Olympic Association
Mr. Muktesh Singh – President – The Emerald Heights International School
Brig. MP Yadav – VSM, Chairman – IMF West Zone
Mr. RK Sharma – Secretary – IMF West Zone
Mr. Kory McAfee - Chief Route Setter
Ms. K Saraswati - Vice-president - Indian Mountaineering Foundation
Mr. Magan Bissa – IMF Delegate
Mr. Lovraj Dharamsaktu (6 times Everest Summitter)
He talked about our responsibility towards nature and how he along with ONGC Everest Cleaning Expedition team brought back 1500 Kg's of garbage. He appreciated the spirit of school & participants for being a part of the competition and congratulated the winners.
The winners of the competition from all the categories & disciplines were felicitated by Mr Lovraj Dharamsaktu, Ms. K Saraswati, Mr. Muktesh Singh, Brig. MP Yadav, Mr. Magan Bissa & Mr. RK Sharma on 29th October 2017.
Men's Lead: 1. Vicky Bhalerao, 2. Irfan Shaikh, 3. Akash Gaikwad
Men's Bouldering: 1. Hritik Marne, 2. Irfan Shaikh, 3. Vicky Bhalerao
Men's Speed: 1. Vicky Bhalerao, 2. Irfan Shaikh, 4. Abhishek Kamte
Women's Lead: 1. Siddhi Manerikar, 2. Dhanshri Lekurwale, 3. Diksha Malviya
Women's Bouldering: 1. Siddhi Manerikar, 2. Dhanshri Lekurwale, 3. Shweta Indulkar
Women's Speed: 1. Shweta Indulkar, 2. Siddhi Manerikar, 3. Neha Kushe
Junior Boy's Lead: 1. Sahil Khan, 2. Ameya Lambat, 3. Atharva Ingle
Junior Boy's Bouldering: 1. Sahil Khan, 2. Dev Chaudhary, 3. Ameya Lambat
Junior Boy's Speed: 1. Sahil Khan, 2. Ameya Lambat, 3. Raj Shinde
Junior Girl's Lead: 1. Shreya Nankar, 2. Arundhati Jhadav, 3. Mrunal Thakkar
Junior Girl's Bouldering: 1. Shreya Nankar, 2. Arundhati Jhadav, 3. Mrunal Thakkar
Junior Girl's Speed: 1. Shreya Nankar, 2. Arundhati Jhadav, 3. Vaidahi Bhonge
Sub-junior Boy's Lead: 1. Kartik Ayare, 2. Rahul Singh, 3. Ashutosh Dhokale
Sub-junior Boy's Bouldering: 1. Kartik Ayare, 2. Sohum Gokhale, 3. Rishab Kulkarni
Sub-junior Boy's Speed: 1. Kartik Ayare, 2. Sohum Gokhale, 3. Rohan Pawar
Sub-junior Girl's Lead: 1. Sania Nargunde, 2. Sohha Diwan, 3. Cheluvi Dhokale
Sub-junior Girl's Bouldering: 1. Smita Gokhale, 2. Sania Nargunde, 3. Saniya Shaikh
Sub-junior Girl's Speed: 1. Smita Gokhale, 2. Saniya Shaikh, 3. Sania Nargunde
Gripping Moment - The Pyramid
All through the competition we saw various creative routes but it went to another level when chief route setter Kory McAfee devised the final route for the “Mens bouldering finals”. It would have been a 7C difficulty grade - a true test of creativity & self-awareness. Crafty moves on punishing angles, intelligent leaps & falls kept everyone at the edge of their seats. A few athletes made the “Bonus” but none made the “Top”. “Rahul Patel” was the one athlete who came close to finishing this route but the “Top” remained out of reach.
Here are a few shots from the same