Written by Kopal Goyal
The first ROMP was conducted in April 2016. The core idea was to promote climbing in Bangalore. The first Romp had only 24 folks while the 2021 ROMP saw about 90 participants over the 3 days in Yedumadu. Climbers ranging from the age of 8-65 joined the event. Traditionally the date of the ROMP is set for around the second weekend of December. The ROMP wasn’t started by just one person but by the Bangalore community of climbers. The community has been present since the 1970s and earlier had tried something of a similar nature at Turahalli forest area when it was open for public. They used to call it Turahalli Day.
I would also like to include what Sohan Pavuluri, one of the organizers of the ROMP had shared as it explains more about the objectives of the ROMP. He mentioned that one of the objectives is- Mentorship. For this, instead of folks deciding their own teams, BCI (Bangalore Climbing Initiatives) assigned the teams to ensure that less experienced folks were paired up with experienced folks so that everyone could get the most out of the partnership. Another objective is Documentation as the idea is also to collect more information about different routes that exist around a particular area. Apart from that, the other idea was to evolve rope climbing skills by framing it as a quasi-competition which helped people to hone their own skill and endurance along with their ability to condition themselves for climbing in the heat.
Kyra who was one of the participants says 2021 ROMP was her first but there have been people who have attended every edition of the ROMP. ROMP as an initiative helps document climbing areas, clear access (post monsoons) and maintain routes. It also helps evolve climbing skills, bring attention to the climbing areas around Bangalore and boost the local economy.
An aerial view of ROMP
Inspire Crew also spent some moments speaking with Sudhir Pawar from Delhi, Tulsi Sinam from Manipur and Raghav Poojari from Hyderabad to know more about ROMP as they attended the 2021 ROMP and had a lot to say.
Sudhir Pawar, a passionate rock climber, says, “I will suggest everyone to at least attend ROMP once and they will feel like coming again and again as the surroundings and the kind of passion people share it here with their whole heart cannot be seen anywhere else at the moment in India. There are so many climbing events that take place every year in different corners but I personally feel like here in ROMP, participants are my family and we share an unknown bond together, a bond of sharing knowledge, learning things that we don’t know, climbing beautiful lines, growing this community and having a wonderful meal at the end of the day to start another day with even more energy.”
A new boulder problem Sudhir was projecting, in Zen garden, Yedumadu.
“I don’t think any participant might have the feeling of not belonging here especially people who are very new to climbing and have come at ROMP. Rather they would be supported and encouraged by the best climber from the group which is admirable” says Sudhir.
For Tulsi Sinam who is a passionate climber from Manipur, living in Delhi, 2021 ROMP was her first year as a participant. She says the success of ROMP, (despite it being organized for no commercial purpose) lies in the discipline of the organizers. “All the directions were given in the documents through group leaders; yes they even decided who will be the leading people divided into groups for ease of access, planning and execution days ago before the event started. There were certified wilderness first responders aid people in every group and the amazing thing that I noticed was that their license terms were also mentioned which made the event very transparent.
Battle of the Bulge Opened by- Sohan Pavuluri & Narayan Pai
“I learnt more about anchor set-ups and personal safety during climbing. The overall atmosphere made things easy to learn and there was a sense of ease and freedom. The group I was in also had climbers like Prakhar who love teaching their skills to others. This was the best thing; responsibilities were shared wisely among people so that they do it wholeheartedly. It was not like responsibilities were shared or given for the sake of the event. There were moments where I was struggling with a particular move or a route but I was encouraged to climb by everyone no matter whether I would be able to finish it or not, which is a nice gesture. This is what we need in our day-to-day climbing sessions as well”, says Tulsi.
Raghava Poojari, who is a chess master, a chess coach and also a climber, recalls how he went to ROMP. “I was studying engineering in Chennai and my fate introduced me to climbing in Manali. Somehow I connected with Sudhir and saw one of his social media stories about climbing in Hampi. Without giving it a second thought, I was in Hampi where I actually met Sudhir. He is a different soul. He encouraged me to climb in different places, sometimes let me tag along with other climbers and later encouraged me to join the ROMP. He motivated me and asked me to climb as much as I can.
Raghav climbing route called Chimney in Badami
That time I was new to climbing, I mean I still am, and I am trying to learn things as it comes my way. But honestly, after I got introduced to climbing, I climbed in a few places and while I was in my hometown, I visited Mahindra hills which is very close to my home and that was the turning point. I saw many boulders and started wondering if this has ever been climbed. After that, a new chapter has been added to my life’s journey. I want to create a climbing culture in my hometown, Hyderabad, as this place offers some nice bouldering spots, and make it an inclusive community not just for hardcore climbers but for everyone.
I feel that strong and experienced climbers can achieve big feats and there is no surprise or anything hard to imagine there but when people new to climbing come and get the same experience, it helps the community to grow bigger.
I can see this happening at ROMP and my personal motive to visit the event was to see and learn how do they do it as there have been many successfully organized editions of the event.
I was amazed to know that none of the organizers are full-time climbers but they come from different professional backgrounds. They are all working together to introduce climbing to more people. BCI aims to improve the climbing infrastructure and grow the climbing community around Bangalore. With the time and effort and time they put in, each person makes sure things are structured. I am proud to say that I experienced my first trad climbing at the ROMP and I am looking forward to climbing more and more.”
All pictures belong to Praveen Jayakaran and BCI.
Special thank you to Kyra, Sudhir, Tulsi, and Raghav for taking out time to talk to us and share their experiences.
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