Viet Nam News
By Thiên Hương
Active young people in HCM City are visiting artificial rock climbing venues, where both, their strength and will, are enhanced.
And for that they are familiarising themselves with places such as Push Climbing and Vertical Academy in the city.
Foreign trainers such as Paul Massad from Chile and Cedric Deguilhem from France have helped develop the sport among locals and foreigners in the city.
An enthusiastic Massad first moved to Nha Trang with his parents a few years ago. He worked as a scuba diving trainer for a year. Then he moved to HCM City with his mother. He received a degree from RMIT in Marketing and Communications before setting up the brand Push Climbing in 2010 in the Korean community of District 7.
“The mountain I lived on was between volcanoes and valleys [in Chile], which offered some of the best climbing in the world,” he said, adding “As for rock climbing, I had not thought about it as a sport until I moved to the United States.”
“When I landed in Việt Nam in 2008, rock climbing and other risky sports were almost unknown in this beautiful country. Like an artist, I started writing on a ‘white canvas’. Việt Nam’s landscape offers a ‘great canvas’ for the rock climbing industry. It has a lot of caves and different kinds of rocks to explore every day in your life, no matter how tall they are,” he said.
Massad further analysed that tourism is not the only thing that would benefit. The arrival of climbing room in urban areas in the form of a climbing gymnasium marked a milestone in the development of sports and culture of the country.
“A lot needs to be done. That is why I am here in Việt Nam and in the industry I chose,” he said.
Massad’s Push Climbing gymnasium offers courses to people of all ages and nationalities.
“We will teach you how to do it safely and enjoy it,” he confirmed.
“Also, I would like to bring along a healthy lifestyle with sport for local youth, so that they do not waste time hanging out in the street and indulge in social evils,” he said.
“When I was younger, I used to climb on my own, mostly on the ice mountain,” an Englishman, who brought his small daughter for training at the gymnasium, said. “It is a great sport because it enhances people’s health and patience, and they have a goal.”
His seven-year old daughter said with big smile after the first lesson that she was no longer scared, climbed higher and felt happy.
“The sport makes me stronger,” teenager Lê Thục Anh said, adding, “When I reach a new height, my fear is overwhelmed.”
“I want to tell people that nothing is impossible,” Massad said. “Before coming here they might think ‘I cannot’, but actually they can do it many times a week.”
He said his prize in teaching people was when he saw people’s fear as they looked up at the heights, and then as it dissipated when they conquered it all.
Massad has also designed climbing walls. Using his experience as a climber, he can design facilities for his Push Climbing centre and others in the city.
He made the wall at Push Climbing from containers as the highest artificial wall in HCM City. He has also designed a stainless steel wall at the California Fitness and Yoga Waterfront centre in HCM City – one of the first of its kind in the world.
The wall was designed in the form of a ship with an anchor and ropes. There are high vertical steps, curves and caves, where people can climb with or without ropes.
Following its success, he expanded building walls for gymnasiums in Vũng Tàu, Đà Nẵng and Hà Nội.
Vertical Academy is another sport centre in HCM City that offers training courses for people before they explore mountains or caves. It is run by Frenchman Cedric Deguilhem, who has been with the mountain climbing community in Việt Nam for the past 10 years.
Through Vina Access and Vertical Academy, the instructor has trained industrial workers, who work on high peaks and as cave guides, in safety skills.
“Safety is on highest level. In Petro Vietnam’s reefs, for example, they use the exact same safety standards as those applied all over the world,” Degulhem said.
“Our first target is to organise facilities for rope access training basically for steel structures, where we can hang a rope and practise different manoeuvres,” he said, “We have organised the rope climbing surface for a climbing wall. And we have set up facilities for two different sports: rope top and bouldering.”
Vertical Academy has been offering classes to mountain climbers and cave explorers for the past year.
“The programme here is really helpful,” Saki Nagao, a Japanese climber said.
“It helps me to get used to the terrain and body movements for real life actions in a natural world, and the instructor is also helpful,” he added.
Takahashi Shingo said the centre provides climbing courses with essential skills.
“The sport trains the body and the mind as well,” he said.
Vertical Academy has joined Việt Nam’s climbing activities.
Its northern partner, Vietclimb has hosted many of events connecting Vietnamese and international climbers. — VNS