Scaling heights with Major S. Utama

Actions
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/wcm/connect/pioneer/2af67035-52b7-4a46-b91e-4883bd1098b5/20dec19pnr-photo0.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-2af67035-52b7-4a46-b91e-4883bd1098b5-mYxnGIE /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/2af67035-52b7-4a46-b91e-4883bd1098b5/20dec19pnr-photo0.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-2af67035-52b7-4a46-b91e-4883bd1098b5-mYxnGIE /web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/people/2019-Q4/20dec19_news1
20dec19_news1 /web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/people/2019-Q4/20dec19_news1
20 Dec 2019 | PEOPLE

Scaling heights with Major S. Utama

Champion rock climber Major (MAJ) S. Utama shows you how to conquer a climbing wall.

// STORY KOH ENG BENG / PHOTOS KENNETH LIN & COURTESY OF MAJ S. UTAMA

// VIDEOGRAPHER DEEPAN NICHOLAS / VENUE GROUND UP CLIMBING

MAJ Utama started indoor rock climbing 17 years ago when he was studying at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). He was so good at it that he represented Singapore in various competitions.

The speed climbing specialist was the champion at the 2006 Southeast Asian Circuit and second runner-up at the 2006 Climbing World Cup.

MAJ Utama (second row, fourth from left) with his team that won this year's Public Service rock climbing competition.

While rock climbing has taken a back seat since he became a career soldier, he remains at the top of his game.

Earlier this year, the 34-year-old led the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) team to win the Public Service rock climbing competition. He also won the fastest climber award.

Workout for body and mind

Rock climbing has helped to build up not only his physical strength but also improve his critical thinking and planning skills.

Before each climb, he has to analyse the possible routes to scale the wall, and plan how he can execute the climb.

Critical thinking is an important quality for combat officers who have to make tough decisions under pressure in changing environments, said MAJ Utama, who is currently a staff officer in Army Safety Inspectorate. His previous appointments include Officer Commanding in 1st Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.

Watch how he scales heights in a climbing gym:

In case you can’t watch the video, here are a few simple tips to get started in rock climbing:

1-UP-B-caption

Get smaller-size shoes

Get a pair of climbing shoes that’s half a size smaller than what you usually wear. This will help you to manoeuvre better on the tiny rock ledges (also called footholds).

1-UP-B-caption
1-UP-B-caption

Use your legs more

Beginners tend to use their arms and pull themselves up the wall. You should use your legs to push yourself up instead: Step on a foothold first, then stand up. Your legs are usually stronger and you should use this to your advantage.

1-UP-B-caption

Climb with your friends

Fellow climbers can give you feedback and tips to improve your climb. More importantly, you will enjoy the climb more because you have company!

Suggested Reading
Following in my grandfather & dad's footsteps
Following in my grandfather & dad's footsteps
PEOPLE
15-Dec-19

2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Daniel Choo has big shoes to fill – his grandfather is Singapore's first defence chief and his dad, a top graduand from Officer Cadet School (OCS).

How CPT (NS) Melvin Tan beat diabetes Feature
How CPT (NS) Melvin Tan beat diabetes
PEOPLE
06-Dec-19

Diabetes is incurable but Captain (CPT) (NS) Melvin Tan managed to "reverse" his condition.

What it means to be a Red Beret: Chief Commando Officer Feature
What it means to be a Red Beret: Chief Commando Officer
PEOPLE
05-Dec-19

Chief Commando Officer Kenny Tay shares his personal story of joining the Red Berets, and what it means to helm this elite unit.

72km, 72 hours: Road to the red beret
Cover story
72km, 72 hours: Road to the red beret
OPS & TRAINING
02-Dec-19

What does it take to don the red beret and be called a Commando? For these trainees, it’s about the magical number “72”.

Learn Krav Maga with SAF commando Feature
Learn Krav Maga with SAF commando
PEOPLE
29-Nov-19

Commando 3WO (NS) Edwin Peng shows you how to defend against a knife threat using Krav Maga techniques.

Get tri-fit with 3WO Victor Er
Cover story
Get tri-fit with 3WO Victor Er
PEOPLE
22-Nov-19

In the first of PIONEER’s sports and fitness series, triathlon enthusiast 3rd Warrant Officer (3WO) Victor Er shares tips on how you can get started in this multisport activity.

She's a Leonheart at BMTC
Cover story
She's a Leonheart at BMTC
PEOPLE
19-Nov-19

She was the longest-serving woman in the Signal formation and has now joined Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) to make an impact as its oldest female commander.

Hunting for the best Feature
Hunting for the best
TECHNOLOGY
25-Oct-19

Earlier this year, the Singapore Army unveiled their newest Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) – the Hunter.

Focusing on the fundamentals Feature
Focusing on the fundamentals
OPS & TRAINING
23-Oct-19

This year's Exercise Wallaby training may have been slowed down by a fire ban, but the troops are making the best of the situation.