Your hol­i­day fun guide

It’s fun, healthy and great for young and old, writes Sarah Dir­suwei of Chasing the Rain­bow travel blog

The Herald (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE -

PORT El­iz­a­beth’s first in­door climb­ing cen­tre re­cently opened in Baak­ens Val­ley and we headed there to see what all the fuss was about.

Val­ley Crag is lo­cated right in the mid­dle of PE’s new­est trendy neigh­bour­hood, in a ware­house look­ing up at the ragged red cliffs tow­er­ing over the Baak­ens River.

But even more im­pres­sive are the brightly coloured man-made rock faces, caves and boul­ders that greet you as you en­ter the tall space in­side.

Our boys have en­joyed climb­ing from be­fore they could walk – they would pull their lit­tle wob­bly bod­ies up and wrig­gle out of their cots, scale up bur­glar bars and eas­ily con­quer tall ta­bles and kitchen coun­ters. Logic hinted they would have a blast at a climb­ing cen­tre.

We adults though are used to hav­ing our feet firmly planted on the hor­i­zon­tal so I felt some­what scep­ti­cal as to the lure of a ver­ti­cal climb. But, as we do ev­ery­thing to­gether as a fam­ily, we were fully com­mit­ted to par­tak­ing rather than sit­ting this one out.

Val­ley Crag’s ag­ile owner, aptly named Ian Clif­ford, helped kit us out with some ex­tremely tight leather shoes and har­nesses be­fore show­ing us the ropes.

We were di­vided into pairs and quickly learned how to tie a dou­ble fig­ure of eight with a stop knot and how to rig up our be­lay de­vices.

One of us was firmly at­tached to one end of the rope and the other was put in charge of be­lay­ing (keep­ing the climb­ing line taut and pre­vent­ing the clim­ber from fall­ing far through a pul­ley type mech­a­nism).

The kids went first, and af­ter a wob­bly start they scaled the tow­er­ing in­door cliff face with gusto. Us be­lay­ers at the bot­tom dis­cov­ered it’s not that dif­fi­cult to be­lay and the clim­bers ab­seiled down with ease.

High fives all round as we swopped po­si­tions and the scep­ti­cal be­lay­ers be­came the rock rab­bits. All fine and well, un­til I tried to put all my body weight on a tiny colour­ful pim­ple and hoist my­self up – def­i­nitely not as easy as it looks!

Af­ter a few em­bar­rass­ing prances I man­aged to el­e­vate my­self a few feet up the rock face.

What looked quite do-able from be­low sud­denly felt enor­mously hard and ter­ri­fy­ingly high. I thought of my son Luke’s lean lit­tle body act­ing as my be­layer and en­vi­sioned him be­ing cat­a­pulted up the wall if I fell.

Ian man­aged to talk me calmly through a path of the largest hand and foot grips and I very nearly made it to the top be­fore be­com­ing frozen with ter­ror. It took all my ef­fort to let go of the lit­tle grips and trust my be­layer to hoist me gen­tly down. The boys were quite frankly in­cred­i­ble. They were eas­ily pop­ping up and down the walls, as were some other younger kids who had brought their par­ents along to be­lay them.

Ian showed us how the grips were all colour coded and there was a se­ries of paths and routes mapped out, pro­vid­ing in­fi­nite climb­ing chal­lenges for be­gin­ners and pros alike.

The in­tro­duc­tory course is R150 a person. Once grad­u­ated, there are daily, weekly and monthly pass op­tions. They also of­fer fun climb­ing birth­day par­ties and have a monthly boul­der­ing league com­pe­ti­tion.

Val­ley Crag is at 16 Lower Val­ley Road and is open daily. Visit www.val­l­ey­crag.co.za for op­er­at­ing hours or call 082-576-4623 to book. More Chasing the Rain­bow trips at: www.chas­ingtherain­bow.net

SCAL­ING NEW HEIGHTS: Get­ting to grips with some fun ad­ven­ture at Val­ley Crag in Baak­ens Val­ley

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