Rock climbing in Mumbai is seeing a steady rise in popularity, especially after the IFSC Climbing World Cup took place in Navi Mumbai this summer, bringing together crowds of enthusiasts and sparking the climbing fever in many newcomers. If you happen to be one of them, here’s how to take the plunge into the world of climbing.

What you need

The sport seems intimidating with the endless amounts of technical gear it involves, be it ropes, harnesses, quickdraws, pitons, chalk, gri-gris or whatever other fancy gadget your climber friend dug out from his gear closet. Chances are, you haven’t the slightest clue what they mean either. But that’s not a problem. Starting out with climbing doesn’t require much at all. Just show up at a climbing wall and the community welcomes with open arms. A regular pair of fitting canvas shoes double as makeshift climbing shoes. Harnesses and the like are provided at the wall.

The poor man’s climbing shoe

The poor man’s climbing shoe

Where to climb

Mumbai has two main artificial climbing walls:

  • Arun Samant Climbing Wall, Goregaon.
    This 43 foot outdoor climbing wall has beginner and advanced level routes. It is complete with a chimney, crack, roof, overhang, and ledge, allowing climbers to try and practice the different types of climbing observed on natural rock.
    Fee: ₹50 for registration, and around ₹50 per session (includes harness rental). Sessions last as long as the wall is open, so around 1.5 – 2 hours.
    Opening hours: 7:30 to 9:30 am Monday-Saturday, 9:30 to 11am on Sundays. 6:30 to 8:30 in the evenings. The wall remains closed on Tuesdays.
    Address: Nandadeep High School- Jayprakash Nagar; Road No. 4; Goregaon [E], Mumbai, 400 063
    Contact: 9022916922
    • Podar College Climbing Gym, Matunga.
      Right outside the auditorium of the college is a small but impressive bouldering wall, managed by the Girivihar mountaineering group. It is frequented by climbers from all across the city, even extending up to Mulund and Belapur.
      Fee: ₹30 per 3 hour session.
      Opening hours: 6 to 9pm on weekdays.
      Contact: 022 2414 3178
    Podar bouldering wall

    Podar bouldering wall

    Once you familiarize yourself with the sport and the community, there are several sights around the city where you can take your practice outdoors, on natural rock. However, these would require the company of climbers with adequate technical equipment and the knowledge of how to set up the anchors, belay system, etc. The climbers that frequent these walls often sport climb outdoors and are usually happy to take people along. So making friends with experienced climbers would probably be the first step.

    Manori

    Manori
    A five minute ferry ride away from the Aksa beach jetty, Manori is a small island full of beautifully textured rock faces right by the sea. There are several bolted routes. Although not very high, these rock faces have both basic and intermediate routes.

    Khopoli

    Khopoli Climbing

    A 30 minute walk from Khopoli station and you’ll find yourself walking up a hill to the basalt rock faces. These rocks have intermediate and advanced routes bolted on them.

    Belapur

    Belapur

    From Belapur station or CBD Belapur bus stop, take an autorickshaw to St. Joseph’s church, in Sector 8. In a small cottage opposite the church is where the Girivihar climbers are found on the weekends. Just show up in the morning and tag along to the numerous sport climbing and bouldering sites in the Parsik hills right behind the church.

    The climbing community is one of the most welcoming of all. So give it a go and if you love it, you’ll be in good company already.

Shimul Bijoor
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