Mountain climbing on the rise in Northland with reopening of indoor wall

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

Almost five years of “rushing” have paid off for climbing-mad Whangārei climber Emma Campbell.

She finally got the indoor climbing wall at Kensington Stadium up and running again.

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

This has meant names like Monique Gray, who won the seventh grade girls’ rock climb
Competing at AIMS Games 2018 and is National Champion, had to practice at home in Ngunguru on her own rock face or travel to Auckland for practice.

It’s a situation that angered Campbell, so the charity she founded – the Northland Climbing Club – after four or five years of pursuing Sport Northland took over running the wall. It finally reopened for the first time last Thursday night.

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

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

“We held an open house at Sport Northland for anyone who might be interested in the wall reopening and we had over 30 visitors. It was a good response and showed that there was a lot of interest,” she said.

“So we started the club with a board of seven, most of whom are experienced and qualified climbers. We have a National Champion up here (Monique Gray) who had to go 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 one our climbers have one good wall to climb.

“And who knows how many national champions we have up here who have never had the chance to scale this wall.”

With sport climbing now an Olympic event, there is a lot of interest in the sport worldwide, but most countries have climbing training.

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

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

Initially, the club will wall climb Thursday nights, but Campbell said they hope to be open Tuesday nights as well, and Sunday afternoons if needed.

“We don’t mind if anyone wants to come by or try it and hopefully we’ll find another national or Olympic champion from Northland.”

To try rock climbing email [email protected]