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Sunday, 12 December 2010

Don’t Ever Look Back, Cause’ It’s A long Way Down

“This is how we live every single night. Take that bottle to the head, and let me see you fly.”
Like A G6 (feat. The Cataracts & Dev) - Far East Movement

I’m not a fan of horror movies. They seem quite silly to me. I don’t really understand how watching people die can fascinate others. It seems really morbid, but that’s what I think. Gosh I never knew that there were so many sadists out there.

For me, unless it deals with my inner phobias, it won’t scare me, but sometimes we don’t realise our phobias until we are right in the middle of it.

Example? I can look right off a bridge, look down from a tall building and even play those video games that simulate a fall. I thought that I never had a fear of heights. That was until I wound up in Shanghai and looked down onto a glass floor that was almost 800 metres high. It scared the shit out of me. My muscles tensed up and my palms got sweaty. The worst part was that there was a panel that had cracked and it was repaired with, yes, cellophane tape.

I only thought that happens here. I never knew that I would see such a thing in Shanghai.

Back to the point. Does this scare you?

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Okay, the iron awning really spoils the effect. But still, it is quite a drop (4 storeys)

Nonetheless, it has something to do with confirming my fear of heights.

Here’s an example of something that I cannot and probably will never do, even if it was to save my life.

That is none other than Hafzanizam “Zam” Bakhori, one of Malaysia’s top climbers. That wall is 20.3 metres high and it’s pretty damn tall. It’ll tower over you and probably make you shiver when you just look at it.

What’s more? It’s in the heart of Petaling Jaya and it’s set out for the world to see.

Where? It’s right on top of 1Utama. You can see it as you drive along the LDP.

Yeah. Now you finally know what’s in that tall glass cage that overlooks the line dividing Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. It’s funny isn’t it? How come there has been no one up there for the past what? 2 years?

There are multiple answers to that.

1. NOT EVERYONE CAN CLIMB THAT WALL

Seriously. No, I haven’t tried it, but think about it, this wall is BEYOND vertical. It has an average gradient of 40 degrees, so that’s one hell of an incline. Imagine having to support your body weight as well as your upward struggle as you heave yourself up the wall. It is seriously no joke. If you take a look at the last few pictures of Zam’s climb, he actually had no place to put his feet! Just picture yourself at least 15 metres off the ground, hanging for your dear life on a piece of plastic jutting out of the wall while trying to grab onto the next available carabineer to clip your rope onto.

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But of course, that piece of “plastic” is built to be trusted thanks to Swiss technology. Although the wall was 100% designed and built in Malaysia, the strict and watchful eye of BLOCX, the Swiss wall manufacturing company ensured it’s safety.

It’s not just the “rocks” that are engineered. The ropes are strong and built for anything. Seriously. I had trust issues with them, but they prove me wrong.

Hmm. Maybe you can climb that wall after all.

2. IT IS ONE SCARY CLIMB

And you may not want to be seen pissing in your pants when the gravity starts to get to your nerves as you reach the 16.75 metre maximum overhang the wall has to offer. The 270 degree panorama of the KL-PJ border is pretty spectacular from the top, but bear in mind, if you can see someone, that someone can see you.

3. IT JUST OPENED

That means that anyone on that wall before the 2nd of December other than the builders would be breaking the law.

But there is another reason why no one was on it. This wall is no ordinary wall. It’s an ELITE wall and not a fresh-grad architect project. It was built to be a challenge to even the most skilled of climbers.

Take Zam for an example.

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Camp5 was built on the principle that everyone can climb, and it was a helluva journey to build a climbing gym that was built to fulfil the dream. Now anyone, regardless or age and gender can enjoy rock climbing.

It was a journey of five years that took Camp5 to it’s current standing. The issue with taking five years (not that I’m saying they’re slow) to develop a place for beginners to climb, they left out another element for a totally new audience.

Don’t you think that in 5 years, some of the people who started early would have eventually graduated to a stage where the walls would be no stranger to them. Even though the “rocks” on the walls are interchangeable, the limit of the fixed gradient of the walls have driven the elite climbers to climb more realistic and challenging walls such as Batu Caves and other climbing gyms.

Eventually Camp5 needed another milestone. They needed something else for the seasoned audience.

Therefore they got down to business and on their fifth birthday, opened their very, very big birthday present to the rock climbing societies of Malaysia.

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That wall was the next big thing for Malaysian climbers. Apparently they had the US Navy come in and test the place out when the ship docked at Port Klang. The response was good.

The man on the mike is Jeremy Peet, the director of Camp5. he revealed the new statistics of the 20000 members who are registered under Camp5 since 2005, and boy it is amazing.

70% of the climbers are Malaysian

45% of the climbers are Female

The oldest member is 72 years young

and their youngest member?

He is yet to turn one.

So you have absolutely NO excuse to peel yourself off the couch and give the rocks a try.It’s only RM48 for a taster course to go try out the rocks and get a feel of how rock climbing is actually like.

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Jeremy again.

Now, if you’re a cream puff like me (sweet but soft), you will probably give up when you get about 1.5 metres off the ground. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a belayer who won’t let you down regardless of what you do.

Pray hard that you get this guy.

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That’s Noel. He belayed for me (held the rope that brought me up and down the wall) and my, he is the most encouraging person when it comes to the rocks. He didn’t let me down (Literally!!).

If you’re more adventurous, then you might want to go straight in. To get your certificate to climb on your own, the Basic Wall Course is just RM100 (not including gear rental and the works). Once you finish that, you can let out on most of the walls there except for the one that Zam showed off on, not yet at least.

Advance booking is a must for the Basic Wall Course. Take a look at www.camp5.com for the details.

Back to the topic – the BIG wall that I can only dream of climbing.

It’s a big wall. So what? There are walls all over the place in there constructed in the same way. What sets this one apart?

Guess what? It’s called the “Pro Climber Wall”. Awesome name right?

Ok. Fine. There is something that makes this wall extremely unique.

It broke a Malaysian record.

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The man holding the certificate is none other than Dato Teo Chiang Kok, the director if 1Utama. Now you know who’s turf you’ve been hanging around on for the past 10 years of your life. The wall holds the Malaysian record for Tallest Indoor Climbing Wall.

With this new addition, Camp5 hopes to be able to coach a Malaysian World Cup Climber to victory (Zam ranks 17th in the World Cup). Who know? According to Zam and Jeremy, it would take about 4 years of experience to get to try that wall.

After the opening ceremony, I had the privilege to get some hands on with the wall. No, not the Pro Climber Wall! Just the beginner/taster wall and the Auto Belay wall.

It was SCARY as HELL on the first go. Without Noel on the other end, I would have given up really fast.

You need to complete it once before you can actually get the hang of it. This first time is horrible but believe me, but trust me: once you finish it, you’ll be going back for more.

So if you wanna see for yourself, get to 1Utama, go to the New Wing and make your way to the 5th floor. A whole new experience awaits you on top there. And I am NOT talking about the arcade or the karaoke. This is one wall that exists ONLY in 1Utama.

Big thanks to Camp5 for having us bloggers over to witness this truly momentous opening.

Love,
D.A.niel

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