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Climbing New Heights

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PCYC Cessnock is riding high on the wave of two new sports introduced at the 2020 Olympics.

Sport (rock wall) climbing made its Olympic debut at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan with two events held, one each for men and women.

Skateboarding also showcased two different disciplines in the Olympics, street and park, with 80 athletes representing 26 different countries in all.

PCYC Cessnock has the second-highest climbing wall in the Southern Hemisphere, which opened in 2017.

Since the club has reopened following the Covid shut-down, old and new members have been flocking to the club to begin exercising and socialising again.

Climbing wall activities co-ordinator Tim Waterson says the rock climbing wall is suitable for all ages from teenagers to people aged over 60.

“It’s 18-metres high, with 23 ropes, more than 100 ‘climbs’, overhangs, big walls and easy and hard stuff,” he said.

“We offer rock climbing classes for those with an adventurous spirit and an appetite for excitement.

“Not only is rock climbing a fantastic form of physical exercise, but it’s also a fun way to challenge your mind and push yourself outside of your comfort zone.”

Tim said the sport was becoming increasingly popular with university students.

“It’s not a young demographic sport, but the 18 to 26-year-olds have been gravitating to it as a good alternative to general gym routines. It’s a very inclusive and social sport – can do with your family.”

The beginner rock climbing course is an excellent introduction to the sport for kids and teenagers (aged 12 to 16 years old). Participants learn the basics of rock climbing, including how to use the equipment and how to climb safely. After gaining confidence in their abilities, kids from the beginner’s course can advance to an intermediate level.

PCYC Cessnock also hosts a rock-climbing program for older students who want to give rock climbing a go.

Tim said one of the great things about the sport was that it was challenge-based and individual.

“People can come every day of the week and do the hard stuff, or whenever they like and do the easy stuff.

“There’s so much variety – speed climbing like the 100 metres, but people can choose colour-coded climbs of various decrees of difficulty. ‘Freedom’ is a big part of the sport.”

PCYC Cessnock manager James Frecklington says the club has boomed over the past two months since emerging from Covid.

“We’ve just had the school holidays and the club was pumping,” he said. “There were about 250 kids a day across the spaces, including multisport, adventure play and the skate park.”

The huge 700-square-metre indoor skate park includes a skate bowl (with escalator and hip) and the large mini-ramp. The park also features several different curves and transition sizes.

James says bike sports are also coming back in a big way in the bowl with plans for competitions and expanding the relationships with local bike shops and pro teams to begin inter-organisational competitions.

For information about the rock climbing, skateboarding and other activities available through PCYC Cessnock, go to pcycnsw.org.au/cessnock.

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