After years worth of efforts of a small tribe called “IITB climbers”, spearheaded by Professor T. T. Niranjan from SJMSOM, ‘Freedom- The Wall’ was finally inaugurated next to the Indoor Badminton Complex on the World Athletics Day. With its inauguration, we boast a world-class boulder climbing facility right inside our campus, open to everyone with a love for climbing- both recreational and competitive.
IIT Bombay had an active mountaineering society back in the 80s, but due to the unfortunate death of a student during a winter trek in the Himalayas, the authorities were forced to bring down the curtains. However, the professors and climbing enthusiasts have made active efforts in recent years to revive the mountaineering community in the institute.
The idea for a rock climbing wall was first proposed in 2012, by Prof. T. T. Niranjan, who played a very important role in taking the project through administrative roadblocks. However, it was difficult to convince the authorities regarding the wall considering the incident, said Jayant Wakode, former Manager of the Adventure Sports Club. He noted, however, that people’s interest in climbing had increased in the past few years and this contributed a lot to the wall being brought into the campus.
An interesting fact to note here is that due to the efforts of Mumbai based adventure club, Girivihar, for the first time the IFSC(International Federation of Sport Climbing) World Cup was held in India, at Navi Mumbai in the year 2016. The wall was a part of the course used during the World Cup bouldering discipline. Since then Girivihar had been trying to install a part of the wall for public use, but due to the lack of space in the city, the wall could not be installed. However, it was at this time IIT Bombay was looking for the proposals for the wall. It was the perfect match.
In spite of this, the match was not without its hurdles. IIT Bombay requires all proposals to be invited by a tender, which however was difficult in this case. Moreover, the cost to get the wall installed was quite high, which made the installation difficult. However, due to donations from both the adventure community and the alumni, the installation of the wall could be successfully completed. But the donations were still not enough and some minor installations, such as a cover for the monsoons could not be installed. If the issue persists, then the wall would be untenable during the monsoons.
What makes this bouldering wall different from outdoor rock climbing is that it is more of an urban sport with a lesser chance to get injured. Hence it is suitable for people who want to pursue it as a hobby as well. While there is no coach present currently, the Club will hold workshops from time to time to teach enthusiasts.
While the installation was not without its hurdles, ‘Freedom- The Wall’ has overcome a lot of those. Although there are a few things remaining, they hope to get it done in some time. With the motto ‘BE YOUR OWN HERO’, the wall aims to be a stepping stone for students and enthusiasts to pursue their love of climbing within the campus. While the initial MoU has been signed for 3 years, we hope that the wall stays on for more years to come.
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