What kind of sport is it?

The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has announced its success in buying a woodland climbing site, which it wants to manage in a way that enhances the experience for those bringing their climbing ropes. Harrison Rocks in Kent has now been bought by the BMC and it has drawn up a woodland plan with the help of a couple of tree experts to manage the site, which will include conserving the arboreal and cliff environments for users. It is now seeking the views of BMC members on the plan it has devised to meet these aims, which it wants users of the locality to help amend or approve. People who like to get out with their Vibram five fingers may wish to take part in the consultation. Harrison Rocks was featured on the BBC Countryfile programme in September this year when presenter Matt Baker put on his climbing harness and took on the challenge.

“I would be happy to talk to people about climbing, if people are interested in me or the sport, I would be glad to tell them about it,” Hirayama said recently at his Climb Park Base Camp, a converted warehouse in Iruma, Saitama Prefecture, that Hirayama has turned into a training facility for climbing enthusiasts. “But I’m kinda fine (with the low-key way it is now). It’s a different sport than soccer or baseball, that’s why maybe some people are curious.  Is it dangerous? People have a lot of questions like that.”I think that’s part of the charm of the sport–it’s an adventurous thing, people are curious about it. People want to know exactly how hard something is, but we can’t always explain everything, and I think that’s a good thing, too. I’m fine with that. It’s really like a lifestyle.”

Since he started climbing 26 years ago at age 15, Hirayama’s numerous feats and records include being the first Asian to win the climbing World Cup, which he claimed twice. He is also a two-time Asian climbing champion, was named the Best All Around Rock Climber by America’s Climbing Magazine, won the Golden Vibram five fingers (given to Asia’s best climber) and has set speed records on several of the planet’s most treacherous rock faces, including the famed El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park.

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