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Scaling the heights, safely


Photo: www.isifa.com

True, September weather isn't that great for swimming, but you can still enjoy an outdoor sport, in the wild. Rock climbing is practically ideal, and you can even enjoy it in bad weather - on any of countless man-made walls.

ROCK climbing is definitely an extreme, dangerous sport. But if you prepare yourself well, it needn't be any more dangerous than crossing a busy street. So here are some basic instructions on how and where to start out, including the contacts you'll need.

Equipment
It's not absolutely necessary to have the best equipment immediately, but your choice should be based on many factors, such as the kind of rocks you'll be climbing - so it pays to consult with the sales staff. The basic rock climbing equipment (see adrex.cz) will cost you CZK 10,000 to 15,000:
- Harness - one definite "must-have" piece of equipment. Adjustable-diameter leg loops are a good feature. You can also add a chest harness, which protects you if you fall head-down.
- Rope - two types: static for rappelling, and dynamic for climbing. For sports and classical climbing, most ropes are 50-60 meters long. After the season you should inspect your ropes and take any damaged rope out of use.
- Climbing shoes - a properly fitting climbing shoe should be as tight as possible, so you can even use your toes when climbing. There are various types of shoes, designed for different rock surfaces.
- Figure-eights - a traditional device for rappelling on a single or a double line, but also for securing a climbing partner. Watch out for mechanical damage caused by dirt or a fall, and never use a damaged figure-eight - throw it out.
- Carabiners - you should have some of the various forms of classic and locking caribiners. Locking caribiners can't accidentally slip open, a frequent cause of accidents.
- Quickdraws - double caribiners used to attach rope to anchor points while climbing. The caribiner with the straight gate attaches to the anchor and the bent-gate caribiner is easier to insert a rope into. The length of the climb and the number of anchor points determine how many you'll need.
- Friends - protection devices for when there aren't enough anchor points. They are inserted into cracks and crevices in the wall.

How and where to begin?
Of course you can teach yourself rock climbing by studying specialized literature. Many people who've never climbed certainly know rule number one: always have three solid points. But before starting it's still good to memorize four principles and then apply them from your very first climb:
-Use your feet as well as your hands for support.
-Always think carefully about where you're going to climb to.
-Always make sure your center of gravity is positioned correctly.
-Keep your stomach to the wall, and move your shoulders away from it.
At the specialized schools that offer climbing courses they're sure to repeat these rules for you. It's better for beginners to start on artificial walls - it costs about CZK 150 to 200 an hour (outdoor courses cost a bit more). For detailed descriptions of climbing rocks in the Czech Republic, go to lezec.cz/pruvodce.php. At Boulder Bar or LokalBlok you can climb without a rope - the entire area is covered with special mattresses in case of a fall. Some walls require reservations, and prices (around CZK 100) may be quoted for one or two hours, or for the entire day.

CLIMBING SCHOOLS

Ruzyně - Lezecké centrum, Drnovská 19, Praha 6 - Ruzyně,tel.: 604 644 714, 235 319 096, kurzy@stena-ruzyne.com,www.lezeckekurzy.cz, www.stena-ruzyne.com

Horolezecká škola Horosport Praha, Sportcentrum Evropská, José Martího 31, Praha 6, kontakt: Petr Piskač, tel.: 777 110 859, 220 172 309, petr.piskac@horosport.cz, www.horosport.cz

Lezecké centrum Mamut, Bubenská 1536/43, Praha 7 - Holešovice, tel.: 233 371 481, www.stenaholesovice.cz

Ladislava Bímová, Rytířova 811/19, Praha 12, tel.: 604 262 137,bimboska@seznam.cz, kurzylezeni.tulak.cz



Photo: archiv

Jaroslav Zika (36),
manager of the customer solutions, Český Telecom

Do you prefer climbing indoor walls or rocks?
" I prefer rock climbing. Indoor walls are good for training and climbing during the week, when there is no other possibility. For me climbing is not only about maximum performance, but it is a good way to relax in nature, to forget everyday worries, and to spend some time with my friends. Climbing also keeps me in shape and enables me to prove that I can overcome obstacles."

To what should a beginner pay the most attention?
" No beginner should attempt climbing without basic training by an instructor, who should concentrate on respecting the safety code. This is also connected with the choice of a reliable partner, with objective judging of one's abilities and the surrounding conditions, especially weather."

© The Prague Tribune, 2005
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