NIRAJ KARKI: CONQUERING VERTICALS
Even to the layman, rock climbing seems like a great prospect in Nepal. The geographical make of the nation, famous for its rocky mountains, make it a promising location for the adventure sport. So, when people grow passionate about scaling treacherous rocks and boulders, it was not very surprising. However, making a career out of the passion is an entirely different story.
Niraj Karki was able to do exactly this. Having realized his passion for rock climbing his dedication was apparent when we shook hands for the first time; years of chalking and climbing rocks had hardened his fingers and skin. Successfully taking his love for the sport and going into competitive stages internationally, he falls amongst the first generation of international competition climbers. He has represented Nepal in two international competitions and he won the national Climbing Competition in 2012. The young 24 year old Niraj has now made a career out of what he loves, a bold move but definitely rousing for this growing sector.
He is, without a doubt, an inspiration to anyone who has ever put a hand in a chalk bag but his arsenal of talent does not end at that. This young gun is also an adventure photographer and writer. On the list of things he could boast about, is his current position as the General Manager of Astrek Wall Climbing in Thamel. Niraj aspires to take climbing to a higher level in Nepal, and his climb to success is hitting high gears.
1.How did you get into rock climbing? When did you decide that you wanted to become a professional rock climber?
There is a difference between competition climbing and rock climbing – I do both. Competitions are sport – it’s about being a better climber than the next. Rock climbing is a lot more personal – it’s about personal growth and is a lot more intimate. I got selected to represent Nepal at the Asian Beach Games in 2012, just a few months after I started climbing. The Asian Climbing Cup followed that same year along with me winning the National Climbing competition here. Since then, I’ve been involved in the development and evolution of climbing as a whole sector working with organizations like the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) in putting together competitions and now running Astrek.
2. What keeps you amped up and motivated to keep pushing your limits every day?
The world is a place to climb – that feeling of discovering a new climb, then figuring out the moves, working on it and finally “sending” (finishing) it is amazing. Each new climb is a journey (and a lesson) and sharing that journey with people while looking forward to more journeys; harder journeys, keeps me psyched.
3. What is the best part of climbing for you?
The climb; the dance that is a proper climb, the freedom, the places and friends. The bonds that I have made with friends I climb with. These are people I trust my life with, and people I can trust to be part of the experiences. These are people I know will “catch me” when I fall.
4. Do you have any other passion besides rock climbing?
Photographing climbing and other adventure sports, cooking, mixing drinks, travelling – all things I can mix with climbing (except mixed drinks!).
5. What does it take to be a good rock climber?
To rock climb, just the desire to climb. But to be a GOOD rock climber, blood, sweat, tears! It takes time, and dedication – the same things it takes to be good at anything. It takes mental fortitude – the desire to push your mental and physical limits. And just being able to enjoy the great outdoors.
There is a difference between competition climbing and rock climbing– I d o b oth. C ompetitions a re s port – it’s about being a better climber than the next.