David Lloyd Son pays a visit to Hanoi’s much-hyped Viet Climb
Down a small alley near Hanoi’s Red River a mountain of shoes pile up against the incongruous entrance to the city’s first and only climbing centre, Viet Climb, which Frenchman Jean Verl set up in 2010 after a few years of informal operation.
Today VTV4 are out in force to shoot a special feature on the centre, popularized mainly due to word of mouth. “It seems that every week we have a new set of TV cameras in here” says X, a friend of Jean’s.
Inside there’s a warm and friendly atmosphere, slightly at odds with that found in some other climbing centres where newbies often feel eschewed by bare-chested climbers clad in the latest lycra. Here people seem almost over willing to help one another in a decidedly more egalitarian spirit.
Having only been involved at Viet Climb for little over a month, Chau is already helping the less initiated work on their skills.
“Sure, I’ve only been doing it for a month, but I’m a smart guy! I learn fast”, he says with a mischievous grin as the climber he’s helping shakes like a leaf before dropping to the mat with a smile and to the cheers of those watching.
Covering a climbing area of 200sqm, novices are faced with a whole list of challenges. There are over a 100 routes on offer, levels of difficulty demarcated by colour coded holds. Ensuring that its regulars don’t get bored or complacent, the centre swaps around its circuits every three months, keeping things fresh.
Training sessions run by the centre’s resident coach Dave, start at VND200,000 and are available to both the uninitiated and those looking to improve their technique. Yearly membership costs VND7m while six months will set you back VND4m. Membership includes u
Viet Climb is not just about carefree climbing. Its team has established the Tac Ke Project aimed at building small climbing walls in Hanoi’s orphanages. Both kids and staff are trained over a period of six months, after which they are allowed to manage and climb the wall by themselves. The project is mostly funded by The French Embassy via its Humanitarian Service for Children of Vietnam, although Jean has supplied some equipment himself. Every three months the project takes orphans out of Hanoi to put their skills to the test in a more natural and healthy environment.
No 40, Alley 76, An Duong Str, Hanoi
Opening hours: 2 pm to 10pm from Tuesday to Sunday
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