Competition has you climbing the wall

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 14:39 15/05/2014
twizel climbing wall
UPSCALE: Twizel is preparing for an influx of social climbers.

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It's going to be a busy week preparing for the dozens of social climbers arriving in Twizel.

The annual climbing wall competition held at the town's events centre takes place on May 18, but co-organiser Kiersten McKinley said it takes ages to prepare all the routes and obstacles.

"It's a big job, it takes a week or so to get everything ready. You've got to get people testing out all the various routes, and there's all sorts of ropes and equipment to bring in," she said.

"It's a major event for our club. People from all over the South Island come to it."

McKinley said she expected about 60 to 80 people to participate.

"It's important to stress it's a social event, but it's great for people's confidence," she said.

"Climbing the highest walls requires a certain amount of skill. You often see the beginners get halfway up and then suddenly get scared as soon as they look down."

McKinley said she got into climbing through her husband, David, who is a mountain guide.

"There are a lot of keen climbers and adventure guides who live in Twizel, but work near Aoraki-Mt Cook," she said.

"The climbing wall has become a big asset for that reason. You come to this time of the year when often the weather packs up and climbers simply can't go out into the field."

The tallest of the two walls is nearly 12 metres high, and is a permanent feature in the events centre. It was erected in 2009 after locals and other organisations raised more than $75,000 towards it.

Last year, the age of participants ranged from 8 to 70.

McKinley said her 7-year-old son would participate this year.

"I would like to get up those walls, but I'll probably be too busy assisting on the ground."

McKinley said a dozen outdoor recreation students from Otago Polytechnic would also assist with belaying people's climbing ropes, and ensuring everyone's safety.

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- South Canterbury

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