Scaling new heights: Wall climbing captivates enthusiasts in Sarawak

Coach and route setter Jemi demonstrates wall climbing for the camera at his employer's gym.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, July 7: Wall climbing, a sport involving scaling vertical structures using grip holds, has been gaining traction in Sarawak, attracting many enthusiasts over the past few years.

Mohammad Azmi Zahari, or Jemi, is a 26-year-old coach and head route setter at a local climbing gym named KlimbZone, shared insights into the sport’s appeal and its growing popularity.


“Wall climbing is not only fun but also competitive and mentally challenging. It’s like solving a puzzle on the wall, finding the right grips to ascend quickly before your fingers tire,” Jemi explained.

A climber prepares to ascend a boulder-shaped wall structure.

Climbers use a harness and rope, controlled by a belayer, ensuring safety even if they slip from the wall.

Originally from West Malaysia, Jemi discovered his passion for wall climbing during university in 2016.

Since then, he has competed in international competitions in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

In 2022, he moved to Kuching to work as a coach and head route setter, eager to develop the sport in Sarawak.

In competitions, climbers race against the route itself, aiming to solve the climbing puzzle within a 5-minute time limit.

Wall climbing is relatively safe, with plenty of safety equipment prepared for those that wish to try it out.

“Reaching the top is a bonus, but the real challenge and satisfaction come from figuring out the routes,” Jemi said.

“If you can solve which route and path you will take within the allowable time, you win. The adrenaline rush comes from finding the routes. For competitive athletes, that is the challenge, as no athlete in the competition knows which routes to take as they are all positioned behind the wall before their turn.

“That is why I like the sport. Personally, my biggest competitor is the route itself, not other fellow participants,” he explained.

His role as a route setter gives him a deeper understanding of the sport and helps him share his knowledge with other enthusiasts.

Despite being a relatively new sport in Sarawak, the State has already produced a national champion.

Jemi sees great potential in the local talent and is committed to nurturing young climbers into competitive athletes.

Climbing shoes specially made for scaling wall structures.

“Starting young is crucial for building endurance, mental strength, and agility,” he noted.

Jemi highlighted that wall climbing is accessible and safe for all ages.

“Anyone can climb. It’s inexpensive; you just need special climbing shoes, which can be rented. Climbing regularly can build your upper body strength and rhythm in just three months.”

Besides wall climbing, Jemi also coaches bouldering, another form of climbing that has garnered similar enthusiasm among locals.

To further promote the sport, the gym collaborates with Persatuan Mendaki Negeri Sarawak (PMNS) and is located along Jalan Lapangan Terbang.

For more information on wall climbing and bouldering, contact Jemi at 017-538 0908. — DayakDaily