25 August 2003

Rock climbing sport in Malaysia
sees more enthusiasts

By Malaysia Correspondent Melissa Goh

More Malaysians are taking up rock climbing as an extreme sport, and with the country boasting some of the world's most challenging routes, it has even attracted enthusiasts from abroad.
Less than half an hour's drive from the capital Kuala Lumpur, and just a stone's throw away from the famed temple of Batu Caves, lies one of Malaysia's most spectacular climbing spots.
It is literally the "hangout" for scores of the city's rock hounds each weekend.
According to trainer Chong Yun Lee, the routes there are among the toughest vertical challenges in the world.
"One thing about Malaysia is, it rains a lot and we have great jungle. A lot of jungle unfortunately is on the rock out there, so anything which is not absolutely vertical or slightly overhanging has a lot of trees on it," Ms Chong said.
"One of the issues in Malaysia is that there are not many easy routes, anything which is low angle or slaps have a great big jungle on it."
Many young Malaysians are now taking up rock climbing.
And veteran climbers like Patrick Andrew who has more than 25 years of climbing experience, are confident that the number of climbers will go up.
"Climbing in this country is picking up. Of course we are still many years behind, compared with Europe and USA, but we can obviously see growth in here," said the president of Blocx Asia.
That is why the Swiss national set up the climbing school in Kuala Lumpur last year, together with New Zealander Jeremy Peet.
And already, the duo have trained more than 300 students.
Contrary to popular beliefs, rock climbing is not about sheer physical strength.
Only 10 per cent relies on power, 30 per cent is basically techniques which you can pick up as you go along, the remaining 60 per cent is all about mind over body.
That is why women, who are born more flexible than men, have found the sport relatively easy.
This reporter got a chance to witness some of the ultimate vertical challenges reserved only for the strongest climbers.
A mosquito-infested area called "Nyamuk", approriately named after the Malay word for "mosquito", is said to be the perfect spot that provides over 150 dynamic vertical lines.
Patrick alone has so far bolted 38 routes, each between 15 and 30 metres high.
Even for experienced climbers, falling is but a norm.
And if one falls, another climber will be down ready to push him on.
Such a spirit of camaraderie can help build trust among colleagues and friends.
And Malaysia, the climbers say, is just the right place, whether you are a beginner or a pro.