Why is bungee jump thrilling? Because our bodies alarm us that our life is in danger (but you know you are safe). This fight-or-flight response triggers the flood of adrenaline, endorphin, and dopamine, which excite us and awaken the warrior inside us.
I want to look like one of those awesome rock climbing dudes who always appear in motivational posters, so I tried my first indoor climbing at Sabah Indoor Climbing Centre (SICC), the best indoor climbing gym in Sabah since 1 Sep 2010.
At first I hesitated, the tall and vertical climbing walls look like unconquerable cliffs. Nearly overpowered by fear, I started to imagine that I was failing and falling.
No, I don’t want to give up without trying. It’s perfectly safe anyway. Because of fear, I had given up so many things in life. I don’t want to be a loser who hides in comfort zone, at least for today.
“Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”
The staffs at SICC are very friendly. They assure me that rock climbing is a fun and safe activity. Well, I think my skill in climbing mango trees during childhood would help lol.
The preparation is fast and simple, I don’t really need to do much. They helped me strapped to harness and rope, something to prevent me from falling to the ground, in case I lose my balance or grip. After a short briefing and my belayer in place, I’m good to go.
My heart pumped rapidly. I walked to the giant wall and looked up. I knew once I made my first move, the only way was up and there was no turning back.
Anyway, my first wall is the easiest one, and I have little difficulty to complete the climb. They advised me to use more of my legs than my hands, and don’t try not to be a cliff hanger.
“The brain is the most important muscle in climbing.” – Wolfgang Güllich
Strength alone doesn’t determine your success. Besides right techniques, climbers need to plan their route. The rock holds are in different shapes and sizes. My favorite ones are those big ones that are easy to grip. Inevitably I have to use the small ones when they are the only option.
When climbing the second wall, I used too much upper body strength and my hands began to shake. At some points I was kind of stuck and didn’t know where to go. Luckily the belayer guided me where to land my next step.
I feel adrenaline flows through my body while trying to keep up with the increasing challenge. Hesitation is bad, so I have to keep climbing up.
I fought my way up with the gravity. When I was tired, I could request the belayer to hold me in hanging position for a short break. FYI, the rope is to prevent you from falling. You are not supposed to use it as a climbing aid.
The moment I tapped the top label, it was like a small victory to me. The second wall is harder due to its irregular wall surface.
Then I got down for a rest before attempting the third wall. Though I was tired, I felt so relax. Rock climbing increases levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter in the body that reduces stress.
According to an article published by British Journal of Sports Medicine, the cardio and energy consumed in climbing is similar to running at a pace between 5 and 7 minutes per Kilometre (That’s fast!).
When I sat and looked around, I noticed many pretty climbers. I wonder if it’s climbing that makes them look beautiful. To me, Lara Croft with fit physique definitely looks far more attractive than weak Snow White with fair skin.
A one-hour climbing session can burn over 700 calories, and it uses lots of muscle groups in the upper and lower body. If you climb often enough, you will build very nice muscle tone. Doubt?
Just look at the instructors of SICC.
Ok, the third wall is even more challenging with mild level of overhang. Now I realize two things: 1) it’s no easy task to be a Spiderman lol, and 2) our fingers can do more amazing things than swiping the screen of smartphone. Climbing really tests our strength, endurance, agility, and balance.
It is not a race, so I just kept calm and moved up inch by inch. Sometimes it’s nerve wracking when I had to reach far to make a bold move that could cause me losing balance. I knew I was in good hands, but I still disliked the idea of falling.
My hands were shivering more and more. The staff tried to encourage me to push the envelope. Whenever I thought I was exhausted, I still managed to squeeze a bit of power from my energy reserve.
Finally, I couldn’t hang on anymore. My hands slipped and I fell. The rope stopped my fall. I tried to get back to where I fell and carried on, but my hands were like jello. White flag raised.
Depend on how you take it, rock climbing can be a skill, sport or passion (or all three) for you. You can enjoy the exhilarating moment without doing extreme sports, speeding, drugs or other dangerous things that can break your bones. Warning: it can be addictive.
Next day my arms and legs were so sore that I could barely lift my toothbrush. I welcome this though. Rock Climbing is one of the best whole body workouts available. If I climb regularly, I can become as strong as a ninja.
I saw some parents went climbing with their kids too. I’m sure this sport can help the kids to learn to be independent thereby building up their confidence and self-esteem. Growth requires a bit of struggle sometimes right. FYI, SICC has “Little Monkeys Class” for kids aged 6 to 13.
The fee of One-day pass fee for SICC is RM22 For adults and RM20 for 17 years & below. (Climbing Shoes for Rent: RM6, or bring your own). They offer special rate to students, group and senior citizens. If you become an avid climber, you can consider all-you-can-climb buffet package that costs RM150 per month (full climbing gear included, except climbing shoes).
SICC is located next to jogging track of Likas Sport complex, Kota Kinabalu City (Sabah, Malaysia). Its GPS Coordinates is 5.979028, 116.091671 (see Map).
Below is more information of SICC if you want to know more:
Tel: +60 19-8837341
Opening Hours: Tue-Fri: 4pm-9pm, Sat-Sun, Public Holidays: 12pm-9pm, Mon (closed)
(You can walk in during opening hours, no advance booking is required)
Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu City, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo