Saloni N.

A lot of people have an insane fear of heights and lack the ‘adventure gene’ but things like rock-climbing and rappelling is not for adrenaline junkies alone.  It is a way of building mental and physical strength. On September 6, 2013, in order to promote adventure tourism in the state, a rock climbing school was launched at Bhuvanagiri, a joint initiative of the AP Tourist Department (APTDC) and Transcend Adventures.

Bhuvnagiri, popularly known as Bhongir is located 48km from Hyderabad and is famous for its hilltop fort. The school aims to be a centre for training in rock climbing and outward bound training, using adventure activities as the medium to reach out to people.

Scaling Mt. Shishapangma (8,027mtrs.) in four days. Image courtesy: shekharbabu.com

Scaling Mt. Shishapangma (8,027mtrs.) in four days.
Image courtesy: shekharbabu.com

The rock climbing courses and training are held under the guidance of renowned mountaineer, Shekhar Babu Bachinepally, the first Indian to climb Mt. Everest as an individual and recipient of the Tensing Norgay National Adventure Award.

“We offer four basic courses in rock-climbing. Basic rock climbing teaches basic rules of bouldering and rock climbing,” says Shekhar. In a four day course, half a day is given to theory lessons and the second for day lectures and demonstrations and training in the field. “We have so far given the course to several students of government and social department schools, and even some private school students. It is a great way of imparting outbound education. The course is well liked by students.” he adds.

The school also offers advanced rock climbing courses but there is a barrier to entry. One has to qualify in the basic course (an A grade) to get to the advanced. In the advanced course, the trainees are also given rescue training. The school provides all the equipment to the trainees.

They also offer two day weekend adventure courses which focus on group activities, basics of rock climbing, balancing on the rock and rappelling. The two days courses are intended to build confidence and personality. They also have a one day adventure outing which gives the taste of outdoor adventure, a great way for people to relieve themselves of stress.

Rock climbing at Bhongir Fort. Image courtesy: Rock climbing school facebook page

Rock climbing at Bhongir Fort.
Image courtesy: Transcend Adventures

The school has 3 regular, trained staff members and a 6:1 trainee to instructor ratio. Instructors are trained in medical emergencies and certified in first aid, and have to be re-certified every year. During a course, doctors are on the standby.

Since some of the courses stretch over a few days, accommodation can be a concern as there’s no boarding facility at the school. But there might be one in 6 to 8 months. Currently, the people have two choices – camping or staying at a nearby government school. “We have ambitious plans for the school; building boarding facilities, a lecture hall, conference hall, dining room, kitchen, office, equipment stories, audio visual facilities,” says Shekhar Babu.

Safety is taken very seriously at the school. When people apply for the courses, they are vetted and counselled, their strength and limitations weighed. “We try to find out if they have joint pain and other risks so that we can design the course accordingly, knowing what to avoid,” he asserts.

How can one be a part of the course? Shekhar says that for individuals interested in basic 4-day long rock-climbing course, announcements are made on the school’s Facebook page. People can also call in to register. The school also receives daily walk-in-tourists, especially for the 300-feet length rappelling. Besides that, they also have 600-feet rappelling and a few climbing routes for tourists. Each course requires a minimum of 20 students, with a maximum of 50.

As of now, they have reached only lower level schools. Private schools do not figure at present as it is a government project targeting government schools. The response has been good. The school is planning on reaching out to the corporate world by offering one-day outings. Here’s the chance to be an adventure seeker – in a perfectly safe, and affordable way.

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