Volume 91, Issue 12

Wednesday, September 17, 1997



Go up and over the wall

Sam Pane/Gazette
WILL I EVER GET TO THE TOP?. First-year Western student Steve Nazarian tries out the wall at Adventure Climbing Gym in London.

By Mike Sikorski and Sam Pane
Gazette Staff

For the adrenaline junkie, rock climbing can be one of the most exhilarating and dangerous sports around.

However, with the introduction of indoor climbing gyms and extensive training programs, people without Sylvester Stallone-like physiques can take a shot at putting their climbing skills to the test.

Brad Christian, owner of Adventure Connection Climbing gym in London, stresses that upper-body strength is only one piece of the puzzle in rock climbing. "Upper-body helps but it's better used in one's balance. It's more legs and flexibility that will help you in climbing."

Lynn Hill, one of the best climbers in the world, is barely five feet tall – showing that it's more flexibility and balance involved with the sport, he adds. Rock climbing is more a quest for independence rather than sports of a competitive nature, he says. "Traditionally the focus has been testing one's own ability, an outlet to get away from team sport."

Climber Larry Edmonds lives in Sarnia, but drives into London specifically to climb. "There is nowhere else I can do it," he says. "I'm 46 years old and I'm in better shape than I've ever been."

Edmonds likes climbing because he can rise to his own level with no competition. He also emphasizes, "it's not a mid-life crisis thing."

First-year Western science student Steve Nazarian is new to climbing and a first-time visitor to the Adventure Climbing Gym. "It's higher than any other gym I've climbed and I love it."

So you want to start rock climbing? The equipment involved in rock climbing includes: a harness (for support), climbing shoes (gripping), climbing rope (safety), carabineers (clip thingy), webbing ( for anchoring), a belaying device (fall prevention) and a helmet (damage control), all of which must be UIAA or be approved by the International Standards Organization 9001.

The most important piece of equipment is none of the above, according to Christian.

"The most important element is to get certified through a registered climbing school to learn how to do it properly," he says. "Too many people buy the equipment, do it once and think they can climb. That's when people can get hurt and give climbing a bad name," he adds.

Whether for the workout, the sense of accomplishment or just to say you've done it, rock climbing is quickly becoming one of the most popular adventure sports around.

Those looking for a respite from team sports definitely find it in climbing. Edmonds says, "It's between you and the wall."

To Contact The Features Department: gazfeat@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997