You must have, by now, watched the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home. If you want to emulate the climbs and falls of the friendly neighbourhood superhero and experience the thrill of height, there is now a place to do it in Coimbatore. Just outside the parking lot of Prozone Mall, a 40-feet tall ladder-climbing tower has been erected.
On a gloomy Wednesday evening, Vikashini Wore the safety harness to climb the ladder for the first time. Five years ago, to get rid of acrophobia, she took up climbing. She soon got hooked on it — so much so that she wanted to be a professional mountaineer instead of the engineering course she had planned to take up.
Vikashini S ultimately stuck to engineering and is in the first year of her course. Climbing, despite not being her primary occupation, continues to be a passion. She heads to K’sirs International School in Chinnavedampatti almost every week for a wall-climbing session at the wall set up by NALS.
With the fear of heights conquered, Vikashini clambered up the climbing tower at the mall in just over 20 seconds. Then, from the summit, she jumped, experiencing a near free-fall. Harnessed to the safety ropes, she swayed a bit towards the 2.5-tonne steel structure as she fell. But, perhaps due to her prior experience in wall climbing, she did not have any awkward bumps. Vikashini is not the only one who has tried out the climbing tower.
The hundreds of others who have, since the structure was set up in October, include housewives, children, a 70-year-old painter among others, says Seshadri Venkatesan, who heads NALS Outdoors India, the company that put up the wall. NALS offers adventure activities, experiential learning programmes, adventure infrastructure development and operations in Coonoor, Udhagamandalam, Manali and Ladakh apart from Coimbatore. The tower is part of their Super Climber Offshoot, which exclusively promotes climbing.
Like most other tourism-related companies, they were out of business when the pandemic began last March. “So, we were idle for a long time. That is when we thought ‘why not bring health into the city?’ Trekking and mountaineering (the team’s primary offering) are far away from the city. So we thought of something everyone can access,” Seshadri, a former Naval officer, explains the idea behind setting up the climbing tower. His team developed the tower with a structural engineer.
Seshadri reckons they are the first in the world to use a ladder-climbing structure for an adventure sport with an electronic timer and ranking system (which are likely to be operational from this Friday). He is patenting it. Eight people can be on the tower at once.
Once the participant presses the pedal at the start, the electronic timer starts; it stops upon pressing aboard at the summit. The times are recorded on the computer.
“The safety is top-notch. So, ages eight to 60 or even 70 can try it out,” he assures, before adding in caution, “But since it’s a steel structure a few bumps are unavoidable.”
Apart from the Prozone Mall visitors, NALS targets corporates and educational institutions. “We already have corporate bookings throughout January and February,” he says. To encourage more people in the city to take it up, Seshadri plans to give away daily, weekly, and monthly cash prizes. He also intends to invite journalists, medical staff, cab drivers, and the police department to try out the structure.
The charges are ₹250 (excluding GST) for two climbs. To know more, call 9442275533/ 9442275502. People who wish to do adventurous things can give it a try at this place.
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