Learning the ropes

Learning the ropes

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A climber abseils down a climbing wall attached to scaffolding at the Yellow Tower construction site. Climbing enthusiasts turned out last Saturday and Sunday to socialise and take a rare opportunity to practise their skills in Phnom Penh.

Post reporter Jude Mak put aside his acrophobia to join thrillseekers scaling a construction site last weekend

Getting to the top is all that matters. Only purists would be concerned with the how.

Dangling at the height of five-and-a-half double-decker buses above the ground should be enough to get anyone’s heart pumping.

And those seeking an adrenaline rush got a chance to do just that – atop a temporary climbing wall installed for the Khlimb the Penh event, held last weekend in Phnom Penh.

The 25-metre-high vertiginous challenge was erected on the side of the Yellow Tower, currently under construction on the Chroy Changvar peninsula.

With safety gear and harness provided, climbers scaled the wall as they pleased for only $5, which included ferry rides to and from the site.
Climbers also had the choice of abseiling down the side of the building.

By noon on Saturday, there were more than two dozen people at the site, hanging around and socialising, offering encouragement to whomever was on the ascent.

The neon-orange wall was studded with different colour grips, which led the climber on ascents of varying degrees of difficulty.

Since the wall could only accommodate one person at a time, there was a queue, although time was easily killed by walking up the uncompleted Yellow Tower to enjoy a spectacular view of Phnom Penh from way above.

When my time came, I admit I was a bit nervous – and a slight fear of heights does not help in such situations.

And my lack of climbing shoes and chalk bag simply exacerbated the problem.
I’m pleased to report, however, that I did eventually make it to the top in one piece.

A small amount of cheating – holding onto the sides of the wall and taking my time – was brushed aside by Tony Keating, one of the two organisers of Khlimb the Penh.

“Getting to the top is all that matters,” Keating assured me. “Only purists would be concerned with the how.”
Co-organiser Yves Nommay said he was satisfied with the turnout.

“We got a bunch of good people. There were many beginners and climbers of all different nationalities,” Nommay said.
“This was the objective – to get people together and get the climber’s network going.”

As for continuing the event, Yves said: “We are planning to do it on monthly basis, but it takes a lot of time and energy.”

He said the next Khlimb the Penh, to be held at the Skyline building near Independence Monument, should be even more impressive than the first.
“There will be four pitches to accommodate four climbers at the same time,

as well as a temporary wall over the swimming pool,” Nommay said.

“The view of Phnom Penh should be very nice, as will the breeze, since the building is 40 metres high.”
The next event would be held in late October or early November, he said.

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