Scaling heights: Ronak Upreti’s journey in climbing sport

Ronak Upreti
Ronak Upreti

Ronak Upreti started climbing for his physical fitness. Later, it turned out to be his passion. In 2010, after the Nepal Climbing Sports Association was registered, climbing was also recognised as a sport. But lately, climbing sports has remained aloof from the sports sectors as there have been no notable activities.

Even though, Upreti is active in sports to fulfil his passion. He has been participating in climbing sports competitions being organised at a local level. The sport has remained stagnant as there has been no national-level competition.

Nevertheless, Upreti, 20, of Kathmandu is striving to make a career in climbing sports. He aspires to represent Nepal in a global avenue through this sport. 

Encountering climbing 

Ronak Upreti
Ronak Upreti

Ronak Upreti was physically weak during his childhood. He used to spend his entire day in his room playing a video game. Except that he was not used to playing any other thing. He was in grade 10 when he encountered Kathmandu Sports Climbing Centre while strolling around Thamel. There, people were climbing on a wall with the support of a rope. At first, he felt strange watching it. 

“Then I also wanted to try it,” says Upreti, “As I did it, I faced a change in my body movement. I liked that change.”

Ronak Upreti says that he was very weak but climbing sports helped him to strengthen his body. 

Upreti expressed his interest in climbing to his brother, who then obtained a yearly membership for him. As a birthday gift, he also received a pair of climbing shoes.

As the climbing centre was near his home, he would spend two hours there every day. Engaging in climbing improved his fitness, and his family also supported him in pursuing the sport.

He first participated in the U15 championship and became a winner. The achievement motivated him to continue the climbing sport. 

He also participated in Climbmandu, where even senior climbers participated. However, he ended up in the last position. In one of the recent competitions organised by Kathmandu Sports Climbing Centre, Upreti secured the third position. 

Upreti holds expertise in bouldering. Lately, he has also been doing good in speed. He says that wall climbing has brought various positive changes in his body. “I feel strong now,” he says, “I used to be skinny and couldn’t do push-ups. But now I can do them 40 times.”

Upreti has also received support from KSCC. “Sujit Kandel and Pranil Man Shrestha, owners of KSCC, have always supported me to become a better climber,” says Upreti. KSCC has even attached a photo of Upreti on its wall and has been a sponsor for him. 

He says, “Foreigners come for the wall climbing; they see my photos and talk to me about it. I feel proud.”

Last year, Upreti won the Boulder Blast Open Bouldering Competition in Pokhara. Similarly, in a recently held Open Lead Climbing, he became third and in 3rd Late Babu Chiri Sherpa Open Climbing he secured a second position. 

Need for national competition 

Ronak Upreti
Ronak Upreti

Although climbing sports have their associations, the sports have remained passive in organising competitions.  Upreti still has not been able to play in a national competition. “National competitions will open an avenue for the players to go global,” says Upreti. 

After the lockdown, there has not been national competition. Such competitions can help in exploring new players. He urges the association to host training and competitions frequently. 

Ronak Upreti aims to bring an international medal for Nepal. But for that, Upreti requires adequate support from the association. “Due to the lack of competition, the players in this sport do not last for long,” he says, “They either become mountaineers or leave the country.”

He says Nepali climbers should at least get a chance to compete in an Asian-level competition. Recently, Upreti at his own expense went to India to participate in the Tata Championship. Likewise, he along with five other players went to Singapore for a training session. 

Dream of climbing centre

Upreti is currently a 20-year-old but his dreams are big. His first dream is to bring an international medal for the nation and then his other dream is to do outdoor climbing. “Nepal holds great potential in outdoor climbing,” he says, “If we make a climbing route, many foreigners will come to Nepal.”

Similarly, Upreti also dreams of having his climbing centre in the future. Currently, pursuing a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, he plans to move abroad for further studies and contribute to the Nepali climbing sports scene.

“I want to make a future in climbing sports. In the future I want to go abroad to obtain climbing training and to establish my climbing centre,” says Upreti, “I don’t want others to face similar problems that we are facing currently.”

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Nepal is a sports correspondent for Onlinekhabar.

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