The new hot at Surinsar: Climbing Wall

Harry Walia. Updated: 6/29/2020 11:09:56 AM Front Page

JAMMU: The 42-feet blank wall turned into a sublime physical challenge for sportspersons and adventure seekers within months, is the first of its kind climbing wall in Jammu region, constructed right next to scenic Surinsar Lake.
The climbing wall featuring surfaces for two disciplines – lead climbing (13 feet) and speed climbing (16 feet) has been raised at Nainsukh Amphitheater at a cost of Rs 36 lakhs, by The Outdoor School, a New Delhi based firm.
Shivani Charak, India’s top ranked woman sport climber, says, “Although Jammu has had a few climbing walls good enough for daily practice, they are for lead climbing and are in private educational institutes. One had to travel to Delhi or some other place to train before vying for any competition. I am really excited to climb the new wall at Surinsar.”
Pertinently, the first climbing wall in Jammu came up at Cybernetics School for Intellectuals, in 2001, which was a 90 degree - 32 feet high wall. The second wall was at Montessori Nargis Dutt Public School RS Pura, built in 2005. The third wall was at Sprawling Buds ICSE School Bantalab, which came up in 2008. The students have been practicing at these walls for years and winning medals.
Shivani tells, “The goal is to scale the vertical wall, which has holders to grab and compete on time. There are ropes to protect the climbers against falls. The sport was set to make its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”
Ram Khajuria, Senior Vice President, Mountaineering Association of J&K and founder member of Tawi Trekkers, points out, “Sport Climbing was introduced in the country around 1995. We had sent teams from Jammu to open sport climbing competitions held at Delhi and Bangalore and be acquainted with the activity. Then, in 1997, a team of 20-25 children was sent to train for a week at Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) Headquarters New Delhi. Following which, we participated in the North Zone competition and won medals. The sport was yet to be recognized in J&K, but our kids continued to train and participate in competitions every year, and gradually Jammu’s stature grew.”
He adds, “Within a short time, the awareness about sport increased. It got recognized during the tenure of Surjeet Singh Slathia as Sports Minister, which enabled us to get little funds for participating and organizing events. We were champion for five straight years in North Zone competition, without a climbing wall with all the three surfaces – lead, speed and bouldering. We have produced sport climbers like Shivani, who has represented Jammu at international championships. Imagine the case when we had such a wall. Our demand has been met to some extent, thanks to Surinsar Mansar Development Authority.”
The climbing wall will benefit the sportspersons as they can practice daily for their sport. It would save time and money spent in travelling to other places for training. Secondly, it will provide opportunity for the locals of Surinsar and nearby villages to learn the sport. Thirdly, with a new facet added, it will enhance the tourism potential of the area and help generate revenue.
Bodh Raj, Sarpanch, Surinsar says, “Surinsar can now host competitions for climbers, and the exotic location will become a part of their experience. People from our Union Territory and across the country will have something thrilling to explore here. We await its official launch.”
A significant milestone in the future of region’s sport climbing and adventure tourism, the wall is named ‘Surinsar Wall’, about which Nagendra Singh Jamwal, former CEO SMDA, the main driver behind the project, says, “Surinsar, a Ramsar wetland, is a brand in eco-tourism. The holy lake has also been a major centre of Dogra culture and Nainsukh’s Basohli art paintings. The climbing wall here is in tribute to the Everestors such as Inspector Ram Singh and Phulail Singh of Jammu Kashmir Police, Col Ranveer Jamwal, and budding and enduring athletes of our region.”
Further, he mentions, “Together with artificial climbing wall, boating, trekking, camping, bird watching and paragliding, Surinsar has all the potential to emerge as a top notch adventure hub.”
The policy for the new hot avenue is yet to be revealed, but stakeholders opine that it should be free for practicing.
“The Tourism Department should provide provisions like isolation zones for participants as per the standards and rules of sport, seating for audience and judges, camping feasibility, regular maintenance, appointment of well qualified Route Setters, Blayers and Coaches, and ensure the structure is fully and properly utilized,” they assert.

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