Nepal's first wall climbing centre, Pasang Lhamu Sports Climbing Centre was established in 2002 in memory of the first Nepali woman 'Pasang Lhamu Sherpa' to summit Mount Everest. It was opened to encourage and promote climbing, and mountaineering skill-crafting and expedition.
But just like any other business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the climbing centre which is situated in Dhumbarahi, Kathmandu was also forced to shut down for more than a year.
However, the climbing centre is back to business now. It was officially reopened on the 16th of July, 2021. It has now joined hands with Everest Women Treks and Expedition, a female-found climbing company. The new management team consists of trained and experienced climbers and mountaineers. There is better equipment and management, and experienced trainers Maya Gurung, member of the first female group to summit high peaks of all seven continents, said.
Business is slowly starting to prosper for the institute after its reopening. Around 15 people including the members visit the centre on daily basis. "We have not focused on any promotional activities yet due to the pandemic", says Maya Gurung. "Recently three Chinese people have joined the centre as members. However, we are prioritising Nepali customers right now rather than promoting among foreign tourists," she adds.
With the global pandemic in mind, the centre has set strict regulations for safety against the virus. The area is disinfected on a daily basis. The use of masks and maintaining social distance have been made mandatory on the premises of the centre and only a limited number of people are allowed in turn. However, it does not seem to be practical as not many are seen following the health safety measures. "People are pre-informed and constantly reminded about the rules and regulations but not everyone takes it seriously," says Tulsi Gurung, a trainer at the centre. "We cannot constantly go after every one to remind them to wear a mask or maintain social distancing", he adds.
The centre has a target of taking adventure sports to a national level. "Our goal is to provide skill-based training and mountaineering guide", says Gaurie Malakar, a member of the management team. "This is also a good platform for people to train their body, mind and release built-up energy", she adds.
Apart from the trained mountaineers and climbing enthusiasts who are the main visitors at the centre, children and adventure sports fanatics also visit time and again. "Wall climbing is not just for mountaineers or trekkers. It is a physical activity, spiritual experience for some," Tulsi Gurung says. "It benefits people of all ages, especially, youngsters who are used to spending hours in front of electronic devices and lack physical movement these days. We need to change the misconception that wall climbing is just for professionals," he adds.
Likewise, Sushant Dhungel, a climbing enthusiast and a member at the climbing centre says, "Even though I am not a professional climber, I like the centre because most of the people there are trained professionals which creates an environment conducive for learning, and it is also fun at the same time," he says. "This centre is very spacious and it also tries to give more importance to the climbing, itself in comparison to other recreational venues in the valley," he adds.
Some other services that the centre provides include top-rope climbing, lead climbing, mountaineering. Both basic and advanced training and workshop on rescue, first-aid and navigation are occasionally organised at the centre.
Pasang Lhamu Sports Climbing Centre has been an inspiration for women climbers in the country till now. The team involves in encouraging women across the country to participate in sports adventures. They not only empower women but also inspires them to become competent leaders and initiators in the field of adventure sports such as hiking, trekking, and mountaineering.
Meanwhile, the women willing to take part in the sports adventure at the centre are offered special discounts.