2019 UIAA ROCK CLIMBING FESTIVAL AWARD CANDIDATE: Suru Boulder Fest
Leh, Ladakh (India)
25 August – 7 September 2019
ABOUT THE EVENT
The Suru Boulder Fest supported by UIAA member association, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) celebrates its fourth edition this year with around 150 climbers expected to participate. A particular emphasis of the festival is to raise awareness of climbing in the country. The area around Ladakh is rich for climbing with an abundance of greenschist boulders. Many international climbers visit the region each year and share their experiences with the local community, most of whom are unable to travel and explore their passion for climbing. As a result, the festival succeeds in the development of the climbing community as well as awareness about the sport.
The event is held in a remote section of the Suru Valley within the district of Kargil. In 2019, there will be a particular focus on climbers being able to develop their skills, exchange experiences and techniques along with various awareness programmes highlighting healthcare and environmental factors.
Each day of the festival will begin with a yoga session before breakfast, as the campsite offers an in-house instructor. Participants will then head out to the sector of their choice along with a designated crew of experienced climbers where they will climb until noon. A hot lunch will be taken at the crag itself before climbing resumes until late in the evening. A further yoga session will be held in the evening. There will be a number of activities for participants, such as meditation classes, falling techniques, first aid and much more.
24 August: All participants gather for final registration.
25 August: Departure for Suru Valley
26 August: Opening Ceremony is followed by spotting and falling technique demonstration
27 August – 6 September: Workshops take place at the campsite
A YOUTH FOCUS
One of the vital elements of the festival is to expose children to climbing. Youngsters who participate on the competitive climbing circuit throughout India can attend the festival for free. There will be a number of workshops conducted for local children, all of which will bring the local community together and improve the skill set of each individual. It is important that young climbers get to experience outdoor climbing as opposed to simply indoor climbing, thus having the opportunity to enhance their overall skills.
The campsite is equipped with facilities such as drinking water, hammocks, toilets, a kitchen with a full staff as well as slacklines, hammocks and crash pads all across the campsite for recreational and leisure purposes.
The festival is organised by Gravit Climbing; a bouldering company based in Leh, in the Indian Himalayas. Team members include Namgyal Phuntsok who is Head of Logistics, Sandeep Maity who is tasked with assigning climbing areas. Gombu Sherpa is head cook; Kushagra Rastogi is in charge of registrations while Tenzing Jamyang and Suhail Kakpori deal with first aid as well as the overall functioning of the festival.
The online registration process is available on the event website. Last minute registrations will be accepted as well.
In last year’s edition, there were 140 participants of which 40 were from Ladak and surrounding areas; 50 were Indian nationals from across the country as well as 50 foreign nationals. This year, the organisers expect 40% of participants to be complete beginners, and 30% each to be intermediate and advanced climbers.
Beginner climbing workshops will be conducted by festival organiser Gravit Climbing. Trad climbing workshops are conducted with I.F.M.G.A certified visiting guides.
The festival is run with the UIAA’s guidelines in mind, which will help sustain nature and spread environmental awareness. The festival adheres to strict Leave No Trace (LnT) guidelines. Participants are discouraged from using plastic bottled water, camping outside of the designated campsite, littering or burning firewood. All food is sourced from the local market. Non-biodegradable waste is packed and distributed to the waste management plant in Kargil. The festival has also linked up with an organisation called Eco-Femme, which makes reusable sanitary pads. The pads are distributed during a workshop at the local girl’s school with the help of female volunteers.
COMMITMENT TO SAFETY
A first aid box is available at the campsite and the crag at all times. There is a fully qualified team of individuals to take care of any emergency evacuation. There is a medical center 20 minutes away from the site, with the district hospital 45 minutes away. Staff at these centers are informed before the festival in case of a medical emergency. There are also a number of crash pads under most boulders.
Suru Boulder Fest is supported by the following partners Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department, Gipfel Climbing Equipment and Tata Hexa
Pictures: Courtesy of Julia Cassou, www.juliacassou.com