At Climb Central Manila, there’s nowhere to go but up
By Denise Fernandez | Photos by Patrick Segovia
Confession time: I am deathly afraid of heights. Deathly. And it definitely isn’t an overstatement—I can barely look below the windows of a three-storey building without feeling the least bit queasy. Despite this, I, a petite, flimsy girl with the body strength of a ferret, found myself looking up at the walls of new indoor climbing center Climb Central Manila, which recently opened in Mandaluyong.
Climb Central Manila is a place that firmly believes that anyone can climb. Kids, adults, newbies, and apparently even agoraphobiacs like me, are more than capable of conquering their walls.
The Singapore-built franchise really wasn’t joking when it came up with that tagline. Everything about the place is extremely friendly to beginners, from its high-quality equipment and facilities to the personalized attention of the staff towards visitors. Newbie or not, first-timers at the establishment are required to go through a safety briefing, which basically orients climbers on the various equipment they’ll be using, how to properly handle them, the levels of difficulty of each wall and rock color, climbing tips, and more. Climb Central is air-conditioned as well for extra comfort—and so your hands are less prone to sweating and more able to keep a good grasp onto the rocks.
Climbers have two options for belays: the belaysafe, which requires a partner, and the auto-belay, where you can climb without any assistance. The belay safe is actually a feature exclusive to the establishment, specially designed by Climb Central’s founders in Singapore. This belay relies on friction, meaning, it won’t matter whether your partner is too heavy for you to carry—most of the support comes from the pulley. All you’ll need is a firm grip on the ropes for you to hold onto your climbing partner.
Climb Central’s walls can stretch as high as 12 meters and include kiddie, belaysafe, auto-belay, and lead (lead walls can only be climbed by veterans who’ve gotten certifications) variants. Meanwhile, its newly-launched four-meter-high bouldering wall challenges more experienced people to climb without being attached to a harness. Climbing newbies can opt to follow the different colors of rocks, with each color representing a particular level of difficulty, or just strategize on their own.
Here are some tips to get you started on your first climb:
1. Carefully listen to the safety briefing. In order to climb safely, you need to make sure you know how to tighten your harness and clip it on securely. Ask questions if ever you’re unsure of what to do.
2. Relax. Proper breathing is key. Try not to let anxiety get to you while climbing as this can lead to stiffening of muscles and joints. Take lots of deep breaths before reaching for your next step.
3. You don’t need to climb the entire wall in one go. Always remember that no one is rushing you and there is no need to finish the wall during your first time. When you get too scared, come down to the ground first and rest before trying again. It’s always best to go at your own pace.
4. Don’t look down. It’s incredibly tempting to check how high you are while you climb, but this will only cause panic and anxiety, especially if you’ve got agoraphobia. Instead of looking down, keep your eyes up or onto your next move. Analyze the rocks to check which is best to step on next.
5. Trust your partner (or the auto-belay). Beginners say that the climbing is the easier bit. It’s letting go of the wall when you reach the top that’s actually more frightening. We suggest that beginners pick the belaysafe option since the auto-belay has a bit of a nerve-wracking drop before it gradually lowers you down.
Quite surprisingly, Climb Central Manila’s patrons are mostly young women in their twenties. The place is also frequently visited by families who dare to take on the (literal) ups and downs of wall climbing. Simply put, wall climbing is no joke. It’s intimidating and bloody scary for anyone who hasn’t tried it before. But with Climb Central Manila’s one-of-a-kind facilities as well as its sheer dedication and patience towards first-time visitors, it’s become something as accessible to locals as exercising or playing any regular sport. And indeed, people who have been there can say that its motto rings true: anyone can climb.
Climb Central Manila is located at The Portal, Greenfield District, Mandaluyong City