Adventure sport up against high costs hurdle

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 10.07.12

July 9: The problem facing adventure sport enthusiasts in the city is high costs as opposed to availability of facilities.

In fact, extreme-sport facilities are available in the city but course fees for them are high. On top of that, equipment required for trekking and rock climbing are expensive and has to be imported.

Currently, aspiring adventure sports buffs undergo rock climbing training at R.G. Bhuyan Memorial Rock Field at Assam State Zoo, Mandakata Commando Battalion in North Guwahati and at the Fourth Assam Police Battalion grounds in Kahilipara.

“Gradually, adventure sport like trekking and rock climbing are becoming popular among the youth. We have trained about 600 men and women since 2005. A few of them have also competed at national-level championships. But despite having keen interest, many find it difficult to pursue adventure sport because of rising course fees. For instance, the fee for a course on rock climbing in the early 80’s was just Rs 1,500. But now, a student has to shell out Rs 10,000 for the same course, which not everybody can afford,” said Bimal Chandra Goswami, general secretary of the Assam Rock and Sport Climbing Association, an NGO imparting lessons in adventure sport in the city.

Another problem is the high cost of purchasing imported equipment used in adventure sport. Although Indian equipment is available at a cheaper rate, their quality is not good and they cannot be used safely.

“We have to purchase imported equipment as they are superior in quality and durable. For instance, an imported harness costs about Rs 5,000 but it is of good quality and prevents a climber from slipping and falling when it is fastened to his body. We also require about 35 metres of rope for climbing a sport-climbing wall. And good quality rope costs about Rs 270 per metre. However, compared to earlier times, sports stores now do keep stocks of such equipment,” Goswami said.

The state directorate of sports also had a store where such equipment could be purchased but this store no longer exists.

“The Indian Mountaineering Foundation provides scholarships to students from economically weak backgrounds for pursuing courses on adventure sport. It will definitely help aspiring players if the state government also provides scholarships. And there is no dearth of trained coaches in the state,” Goswami said.

A 20-member team of players, which has been trained by the Assam Rock and Sport Climbing Association, will leave for a trekking expedition to Dzongri in Sikkim in September this year. They aim to scale a height of 14,000 feet.