Here’s a look at the invincible lot.
Climbing is an activity where a participant is expected to ascend a natural rock formation or an artificial rock wall from a specified starting point till the ending of usually an already pre-defined route. The objective here is to successfully scale without falling and complete the decided route in the least possible time. Unlike ice climbing, in rock climbing the athlete uses bare hands to support their weight as well as to provide balance. The onset of the sport, rock climbing came to be recognised as an independent activity; other than a salient feature of alpine climbing, as late as the last quarter of the 19th century and has ever since gradually progressed forward.
In India however, the sport of rock climbing is recognised under the wing of the apex climbing body; Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) and although this field is in its nascent stages here, the emergence of budding athletes can already be sighted. Amongst the men within the likes of Praveen C M, Shivalinga, Tuhin Satarkar and Aziz Shaik, who have been leading the charge by ascending some of the toughest routes established across the country. In addition to that, what is even more encouraging is the amount of female athletes participating in this field.
Archana Jadhav is one of the veterans in the field and has been affiliated with the sport for more than two decades now and her contribution to climbing is thus far unsurpassed. Now, at the age of 34, being a working mother, Archana regrettably is unable to partake in climbing with her former zeal but her passion for climbing is far away from dwindling. Having being introduced to the sport by a colleague during her time as a recruit in the prestigious BSG (Bharat Scouts and Guides), Archana started climbing at an early age of 11. Now in retirement she yet holds the position of the only female climber to be given the coveted ‘Eklavya’ award for Rock Climbing.
However, Archana isn’t the only one. Shanti Rani Devi made her debut in the climbing scenario begetting first position in the U-16 junior All India Climbing Competition in the year 1998, and has since been a premiere level climber of India. At present Shanti, is a semi-professional climber and a mountaineer, attempting to explore maximum adventurous outlets, she constantly yearns for outdoor endeavours. Belonging to the Far East state of Manipur adventure was not a far outreach from her comfort zone attesting almost to the depth and abundance of the natural beauty found amongst the ‘Seven Sister’ states. Shanti’s decision to pursue climbing was however not solely on her own accord as in school on the pretext of supporting a friend whose father was a climbing instructor, Shanti was first introduced to climbing and has ever since been an integral part of this athlete’s life.
“Out with the old and In with the new”, although a mocking remark, nevertheless blunts out an obvious fact; with the natural course of time there will inevitably be an uprising of younger talent, an eager young buck trying ever hard to make their mark, and so upon that note, we look into some of the rising stars within the climbing sphere in the country;
Nehaa Prakash, who at present is one of the most, decorated rock climber the country has to offer hails from the city considered to be the climbing hub of India; Bangalore. She was introduced to climbing in 2006 when she attended an outdoor camp as part of the girls “scouts” team in Ramanagar, about 70kms away from Bangalore. Nehaa’s vigour for this demanding activity is as resolute as ever, however, being raised in a bourgeoisie contemporary class of society the decision to commit to pursuing sports was all the more of a quandary to her, as more weightage was sanctioned to academic endeavours rather than professional sports. Socio-economic aspects kept aside, Nehaa is and has been a proven gem amongst the growing climbing enthusiasts across the country.
On many an occasion comes a stage where the resolve of an athlete is tested and so was the case with Siddhi Shekhar Manerikar but with an iron will and a determined spirit this young athlete desires to pursue the Sport of Rock Climbing professionally. Siddhi always wanted to do something away from orthodox enterprises and this motivated her to take up Climbing. To her fated advantage her school already had a climbing wall and this helped her begin in a field where many people at that age are oblivious of its presence and so Siddhi began her climbing journey within the vicinity of her school in her 8th Grade when she no more than 13 years of age. Now this budding star claims a position in each passing nationals.