By Apoorva Prasad
Last week we spoke with Mohit Oberoi and Ganesh Chettri, two top Indian sport climbers and coaches from wildly different backgrounds and generations. Mohit and Ganesh pull on both real rock and plastic, but doing so at a high level can take its toll. We get a grip on how they inspire themselves and their buddies to get higher.
What do you do to stay fresh and motivated?
Mohit Oberoi: I started climbing when I was in my teens, and we always went outdoors, to Dhauj, to climb. I always found that motivating -- the lake and the wilderness there, the quality of the experience, and being outdoors. But recently, I've taken a break from climbing and have been doing triathlons... running, biking and swimming. I just completed my first Ironman, in South Africa, in April 2011. And now I'm ready to climb again. As long as I'm active and have goals set for myself, I feel good.
Ganesh Chettri: I agree, being outdoors is very inspiring. It's very different from climbing on artificial walls. And it's very good for training too. Going in a group is the best way to get motivated -- the crowd inspires you, and it can also be a little competitive.
So do you have a favourite climbing area or sports wall?
Mohit: In India, it would be Dhauj, near Delhi. For me it's the local area, where I'd go all the time. Internationally, I'd have to say Krabi, in Thailand. It's beautiful. You've got the sea, the beach, good weather, great food, massages after the climbing. What's not to like!?
Ganesh: My favourite outdoor area is the Hampi and Badami area in South India. The quality of rock is very good, with lots of famous routes. I really like a climbing route there called Ganesha -- same as my name! Also, lots of people are interested in these areas, so it's exciting. Right now, there's a training camp there for the Indian sport climbing team. Sandeep Maity, who's really good young climber is there.
I do have a favourite sports climbing wall. It's in Gwalior, at the engineering college there. It's really well made, high quality, with good routes.
Hampi is amazing. It became pretty famous after Chris Sharma's movie Pilgrimage. So what are your fav climbing books or DVDs for movie night?
Mohit: Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage: The Lonely Challenge by Hermann Buhl is definitely my favourite book. That guy was old school... a childhood hero. As for a favourite climbing movie. French climber Patrick Edlinger's movie, La Vie Au Bout Des Doigts (Life at Your Fingertips). That was an iconic movie in the 1980s, with him soloing (climbing without a rope) some really amazing routes in France, in the Verdon gorges. Really incredible. It's a must-watch.
Ganesh: Well, I haven't read that many books. But I enjoy watching climbing competition and championships DVDs. They're like fights between the competitors, and each climber has his or her own techniques and skills. Anything with Japanese climber Yuji Hirayama, who is one of my favourite climbers. [Ed. Hirayama is the first Asian to win the sport climbing World Cup].
Any advise for climbing newbies?
Mohit: Just go for it. If you can push yourself to go out and try it, do it.
Ganesh: In India, sport climbing is the best game for kids. Usually it's very, very difficult for Indian athletes to compete internationally and reach that level. I've done gymnastics till the state level. But climbing is different, there are many opportunities to go international. It's not like cricket or hockey, which you can play in school, but the best you can usually do is reach the national level. But it's very tough to reach an international level. In sport climbing, it's not that hard, and there are a lot of chances.
Apoorva Prasad is the managing editor of Men's Life Today India. Apart from being a journalist, he's a bit of a climber himself, having graduated the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering's advanced course in 2002.