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Time Out Kids checks out the family-friendly climbing wall at Dorell’s The Wall in Dubai

Although others might consider us foolhardy or possibly even negligent, my husband and I decided, if that’s what she loves doing, (and watching her hanging upside down from the door frame, there’s no denying she’s really very good!) we should encourage her passion, just under more controlled conditions.

Off the Wall

A quick internet search let to the discovery of a genuine world climbing champion in our midst – Ivan Shyshkovskyy an ex-world speed climb champion from the Ukraine, retired from competition and based at Dorell’s Climbing Wall in Dubai Trade Centre. As chief instructor of The Wall, Ivan seemed the right man to give Eva some training and encouragement.

Quiet, calm and conscientious, Ivan is not what you immediately imagine an ex-world champ of anything to be. But the kids take an instant liking to his canny demeanor and within minutes he’s convinced them to hop into their mini climbing harnesses (which to be honest, to the untrained eye look more like medieval instruments of torture) plus their special climbing shoes, without so much as a whimper. (If you’ve ever witnessed the process of my girls getting-dressed on any average school morning, you’d know what an accomplishment this is in itself!)

Next, Ivan explains to Eva that the rope now attached to her harness is clipped to the top of the wall and back down to Ivan, allowing him to safely control her climb and decent. Registering this for all of a nano- second, it’s obvious she’s wildly distracted by her imminent ascent of Dubai’s biggest purpose built climbing wall and its inviting little colored hand and foot holds.

Climbing the Walls

She sets off on the ‘kids’ climb, a specially designated route of mini-spaced holds for little people. At about 4 meters up, she halts and looks down at us, then across the grounds of the club below; I can see she loves it and she powers up another few meters

It’s all going well and with direction from Ivan she gets so high, she resembles a dinky Spider-girl lunging for the top. However, once there, she meets her nemesis, the reality that she’s going to have to let go entirely, place all her trust in Ivan and be lowered back down to the floor mats. It takes a little convincing from Ivan, but by half way she looks like she’s enjoying the decent almost as much as the climb.

Next it’s Millie’s turn. Aged seven, I can see the grim determination on her face; she WILL NOT be beaten by her pesky four year-old sister. She climbs with the help of Ivan’s instructions. It’s great for her ‘left and rights’ and she seems to be gaining confidence with every meter.

Ups and Downs

In fact, it looks so much fun, that by the time the kids have had a few more tries and are wired yet thoroughly exhausted, both their father and I are also harnessed up and psyched to climb.

It’s not at all what I expect, climbing seems to be about planning, checking routes and knowing where you’ll go next as much as it requires moderate levels of strength and fitness.

The kids can’t believe I’m climbing too! They love it and yell from below where they think I should place my hands and feet next, (another bonus in the left and right learning), except all I can think about is how incredibly high I am!

I look around the wall and see a lithe French couple hanging effortlessly while discussing the particular merits of each route, resembling graceful mountain gazelle. I should mention, at this point I’m purple with effort and working through a small yet vivid height issue, but with encouragement from the girls – yet lacking all of the grace of the French, I make it to the top!

As Ivan lowers me to the deck and my family clap and cheer, an amazing feeling of accomplishment and pride surges through every pore. And, right there and then, I realize this won’t be the last time we come climbing as a family.

The Pros of Climbing

Children who climb regularly can look forward to:

  1. Improved balance
  2. Better flexibility
  3. Increased coordination
  4. Better strategy and planning skills
  5. Improved self confidence
  6. A whole body workout
  7. A family bonding activity that everyone can enjoy!

TDCC – The Developing Child Center – Dubai

This article and the photograph appeared in Time Out Kids in November 2014



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