Scaling heights with Major S. UtamaChampion 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.
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:
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).
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.
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!