TRURO – If you’re hoping to walk off the street and jump on the rock climbing wall here, you might have to think again.
In order to climb, you need a belayer, according to the Rath Eastlink Community Centre’s (RECC) Christine Cutler.
“A lot of people are coming in and they have the expectation that they can walk in and start climbing, but unless they have someone to belay, they can’t,” said Cutler, the Kohler Klimbing Wall supervisor. “We always have one staff member working, but they are treated the same as a lifeguard – they provide safety to everyone.”
Since the wall opened on April 20, close to 2,000 people have signed a waiver and climbed the wall at least once. Close to 300 have taken a ‘B4U Climb’ belayer course.
“If there isn’t anyone on the wall and someone comes in, that staff member can do a one-on-one with them, but if there are more than that, they can’t. Because climbing is so risky and there is so much liability, we have to be on the ground,” she said.
“Because we have no idea how much time we can offer to people when they come in, we try to have a belayer come with the climber. We have often helped them if no one is on the wall at the time, but when someone arrives, we can’t help them after that.
“We help them just to get a feel for what it is.”
That’s why the staff at the climbing wall offers the B4U Climb course, which runs from an hour to an hour-and-a-half, for $19 plus tax. Membership discounts are available and the course is open to ages 15 and older.
“Once someone has that course, they can come in at anytime to climb and bring another person, or many people, to climb.”
With the numbers being higher than the staff was anticipating, they’re quite happy with the turnout.
During the course of four months, there have been 500 children climbing the wall through 40 different birthday parties. Private bookings are available as well. The wall staff will be offering community climbing classes three days a week, for two hours a class.
“We will have two paid staff during those times just to do the belaying,” Cutler said.
The community climbing classes will be Monday and Thursday nights from 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturday mornings beginning at 10 a.m.
Evenings and weekends are the busiest times for the climbing wall, with ladies night on Tuesdays being the busiest.
“After seven o’clock, it’s just ladies night,” said Cutler, adding there have been up to 14 women during a ladies night climb. “All ages and all sizes…we have a lot of fun.”
The B4U Climb course is also offered during ladies night. The course begins at 7:30 p.m.
In addition to the community climbing classes, the wall staff can also take bookings of up to four climbers an hour for $20 taxes in.
“For those bookings, they’re actually hiring a belayer – I bring somebody in for those bookings,” Cutler said.
Because the RECC is a community centre, Cutler said she researched other centres and walls to keep them competitive.
“Our prices are actually cheaper than where I’ve been researching,” she said, noting people have complained about the cost to rent harnesses and shoes, which are $2 each.
For more information on the climbing wall, including safety rules, training programs and the schedule, visit ratheastlinkcomunitycentre.ca/climbing-wall.html.
AT A GLANCE:
- The Kohler Klimbing Wall opened to the public on April 20
- Has a height of 46 feet with varying degrees of challenges.
- Can accommodate up to 18 participants when space and instructors, as well as belayers, are available.
- It's a top roping system, so participants are harnessed in with a climbing partner on the floor.
- Instruction packages and private lessons are available by contacting the centre.
- If you're planning on climbing, tops shouldn't be too loose, and bottoms need to go under the harness - knee-length or longer are recommended.
- Jewelry on hands is not permitted while climbing.
- Those with long hair should tie it back as it could tangle while climbing.
- Discounts are available for seniors, students and youth.
- Those age 15 and older are encouraged to take instruction courses. Belaying isn't recommended for those under the age of 15.
- Day passes for just the climbing wall are $10 for adults, $8 for youth, and children under five are free.
- Gear can be rented on site: $2 for a pair of shoes and $2 for a harness.
- Since opening April 20, the wall has had close to 2,000 people sign waivers and climb the wall at least once; compared to Dalhousie University with about 6,000 participants a year.
- 300 people have taken the belaying course.
- More than 500 children have climbed the wall in 40 different birthday parties.