Rock climbers pay attention to safety
Rock climbing in Hong Kong is a thriving outdoor sport that provides physical and mental challenges for those with a sense of adventure. People can get involved in the activity at indoor and outdoor venues, or in locations within country parks.
The sport is overseen by the Hong Kong Mountaineering Union (HKMU), which provides a certification process for local affiliated climbing clubs that are listed on its website (www.hkmu.org.hk). The operation of climbing venues is strictly regulated in Hong Kong, so anyone starting the sport can do so knowing that their safety is paramount, enthusiasts say.
'Proper instruction and certification is essential. Beginners should start with sport climbing on indoor/artificial walls. They are maintained regularly and this reduces the overall risk of injury,' explains Jonn Lu, founder of a local climbing group, Project X (www.projectXteam.org).
There are two courses in traditional rock climbing and sport climbing on artificial walls that lead to HKMU certification, Lu explains. Level 1 courses cover top-rope climbing techniques (the climbing rope is already in place), belaying (rope feeding), knot making practice and all issues of safety. Level 2 courses cover lead-climbing techniques (the climbing rope needs to be brought to the top of the climbing route) and the setting of anchor points for the rope. The 12-hour, Level 1 courses start at HK$330, and the 24-hour, Level 2 courses start at HK$780. A certificate is awarded after the Level 1 courses and a photo card is issued after the Level 2 courses.
Having a Level 2 photo card, will allow you to practise on any of the artificial walls operated by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (www.lcsd.gov.hk/lsb/en/lsb_climbing_wall.php).
You must practise with a partner who also holds a Level 2 photo card. Outdoor artificial walls are free, but equipment is not provided. Bookings must be made in person. Indoor walls are air conditioned and equipment can be hired by the hour, for about HK$45-HK$55. Bookings can be made and paid for online.
The YMCA in Tsim Sha Tsui (www.ymcahk.org.hk/snr/cw/) runs climbing courses and has its own certification. A three-hour, introductory class costs HK$190 and covers safety procedures, basic equipment, knot making and practice on the wall. The 15-hour, elementary class includes a variety of equipment and more time on the wall. It costs HK$700 for non-members. The 18-hour, improvers' class focuses on different climbing techniques with a lot of time on the wall. It costs HK$890 for non-members. Certificates are issued at the end of each course. It operates an indoor wall in Tsim Sha Tsui and the tallest outdoor wall in Hong Kong at the King's Park Centenary Centre, in Yau Ma Tei.
Climbing sessions at the King's Park wall cost HK$60-HK$90 and a one-time lead-climbing assessment test costs HK$110.