With its mountainous topography, Islamabad limits adventurous activities. But the Rock Climbing Club is set to change that soon. The club initiated its first ‘beginners’ session from August 31 to September 2, which proved that this strenuous and unnerving activity can be accomplished by anyone irrespective of age and physical fitness.
“More than fitness or stamina, rock climbing demands determination and will power. The trainer’s support and teaching also goes a long way,” Dr Tariq Raheem, the co-founder of the club, tells The Express Tribune. Raheem received his ‘Rock Star 1’ (basic rock climbing) certification along with the rest of his 14-member-team at the age of 51.
Neither Raheem nor his daughter Meenah are adventure buffs but when they purchased a plot in Shah Allahditta aka ‘Saddu’s retreat’, the idea to set up a rock climbing facility there occurred to them.
The father-daughter managerial duo says that they aspire to promote the beautiful landscape of this area in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. “We started with rock climbing as it is relatively low cost and doesn’t alter the terrain,” adds Raheem.
It all started during his medical tour in the northern areas of the landscape when Raheem noted that Allahditta’s prospective climbing peaks resemble those of Hunza’s called, ‘The Eagle’s Nest’. Thus, they collaborated with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and deemed Allahditta’s peaks its namesake.
The founding team — with the help of Green Hill Developers, the first Pakistani Mount Everest conqueror Nazeer Sabir and Italian certified rock climbing trainer Afzal Shirazi — set out on the third day of Eid to speculate the potential of the terrain, which proved fruitful.
This lead to the founders spreading the news of this adventurous opportunity for amateurs through word of mouth and their Facebook page, charging Rs3,000 for the three-day session. However, they told The Express Tribune, their average cost per day came up to Rs2,000 per person. “While there is potential profit in promoting such activities in this area, right now we are not doing it for profit. We want to provide an opportunity to people from all walks of life to push themselves physically and mentally and have a good time,” said Raheem.
Indeed, the goal has been met as all of the participants from the ‘Rock Star 1’ session have pledged their involvement for phase two, ‘Rock Star 2’ (mid level certification) which will be held later this year.
Forty-year-old Alia Khan, an educationalist and founding member, admits that she recently let her fitness regime go and though she had to overcome physical strain and debilitation, this is an accomplishment she is proud of and will pursue. She further acknowledges that the friendship amongst the team members is novel and strong. “We have all developed a bond that is sure to continue,” she adds.
Trainer Shirazi also notes that though he has travelled around the world for rock climbing, this was one of his best experiences due to the participant’s eclecticism and enthusiasm.
While participants only endured minor bruises and scratches, Meenah injured her back quite badly on the third day. “I felt quite silly that I managed to not get hurt during the actual rock climbing but fell on plain ground while it was raining,” she says candidly.
Participants raved about the safety measures taken during the training while talking to The Express Tribune. “All the trainers brought their professional gear and we were double-secured from top to bottom. The two ambulances and doctors available at sight were also a big relief,” shares Khan.
Part two of ‘Rock Star 1’ training will be underway in October and November, featuring a competition between the two teams to see which participants qualify for ‘Rock Star 2’ training.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2012.
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