Rock climbing

Climbing on the rise in Northland with the reopening of the inner wall

Emma Campbell, President of the Northland Climbing Club, at the newly reopened climbing wall at Kensington Stadium. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Nearly five years of “stalking” have paid off for Whangārei climbing enthusiast Emma Campbell.

She finally got the indoor climbing wall in Kensington Stadium back up and running.

The wall – owned by Sport Northland, but operated and maintained by NorthTec – has been out of service for almost six years.

It’s meant the likes of Monique Gray, who won the Grade 7 Women’s Climb
competing at the AIMS Games in 2018 and is a national champion, had to train on her own rock face at her home in Ngunguru or come down to Auckland to train there.

It’s a situation that infuriates Campbell, so after four or five years of stalking Sport Northland, the charity club she started – the Northland Climbing Club – has taken over. It was finally reopened for the first time last Thursday evening.

Campbell said she knew others shared her frustration with the closure of the wall and after the club was established he signed a memorandum of understanding with Sport Northland and the wall is back in action.

She first set up a Facebook page to gauge support and, with nearly 500 followers, decided to take it a step further about a year ago.

”We held an open day at Sport Northland for anyone who might be interested in reopening the wall and over 30 people showed up. It was a good response and it showed there was a lot of interest,” she said.

“So we started the club with a board of seven members, most of whom are experienced and qualified climbers. We have a national champion here (Monique Gray) who had to travel to Auckland once a week to practice on her wall there, and although Whangārei Boys High School has a small indoor wall, we really need this bigger so our climbers have a good wall to climb.

“And who knows how many national champions we may have here who have never had the chance to climb that wall.”

With sport climbing now an Olympic event, there is major worldwide interest in the sport, but most countries have some training in rock climbing.

”I know my kids are so happy to have it open and I’m so excited to have it open for them and others who want to climb.

“Kids love to climb and this is a great place for them to do it safely but with a good challenge for all skill levels.”

Initially, the club will climb the wall on Thursday evening, but Campbell said he hoped to also be open on Tuesday evening and, if there is demand, Sunday afternoon as well.

”We don’t mind anyone wanting to come or try, and hopefully we can find another national or Olympic champion from Northland. ”

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