My new project: a climbing wall

I am sitting here on a chair. Waiting for someone to walk in. Yes that is also part of my new job. My second job. Coaching on the climbing wall.

Hier sitze ich auf meinem Stuhl und warte, dass jemand hereinkommt. Ja, das ist Teil von meinem neuen Job. Meinem zweiten Job. Als Trainer in einer Kletterhalle arbeiten.


The beginning of this story goes months back. In the beginning of November I mentioned I  was helping to build a climbing wall in the sportcenter in Swakopmund. By that time Ian was running the organisation. Ian is active in the climbing sports. He used to be involved in other climbing walls in Swakopmund which don’t exist anymore and he is doing quiet a bit of rock climbing. And now he was busy getting the climbing wall started at the Dome. The Dome is the indoor sport center in Swakopmund. By the time I got involved in it, it all sounded so positive. My friends and me came climbing for over a month twice a week. But then he dropped me from one day to another. I got a phone call where he explained why he is stepping back from the climbing wall and that he took all the grips off. Really? Now, when it started getting popular in the Dome? Yes, he couldn’t get along with the management. Or they didn’t wanna support him anymore. Sad about the situation but in the same time I felt I couldn’t change anything. Until I got part of a beach volleyball team who meets at the mole for fun matches. Having a break in the shade we start chatting and I get into a conversation with Dave. Wait, what did you say is your job at the Dome? Your the operations manager?! Well then I should talk to you about the climbing wall. And then I got the story about why Ian stopped and that the Dome wants to have a climbing wall. There were some disagreements between them and that was kind of the reason why it failed. But we are looking for a person who wants to run it. I’ll do it. Was my straight answer. When I told Dawie about it he just said „you know it will never happen“. Yes, that is this african mentality. That’s why this continent is moving so slow. But you know what. That was the best motivation he could give me. Because now more than ever I will make sure it will work.
A week later I found myself in a meeting with 3 managers at the Dome talking about business. Talking about things I didn’t know a lot and about things I pretended to know about. What my climbing history is? Well, I’ve been climbing in a climbing gym on kids birthdays when I was still a child. Mmh, shouldn’t mention that, sounds unprofessional. I got into the climbing since I live in Swakopmund and I am going with my friends once a week to go rock climbing. Sounds a bit more professional. And don’t ask me about certificates or whatever. I don’t have any. But we are in Africa. Nobody cares that the person opening a climbing gym has no coaching licence in climbing. Just do it. That was kind of the end of the meeting. In the next one we discussed about climbing gear. I planned to import it from Germany because it is so much cheaper than order it in Namibia. Like everything else. My budget I asked for equipment was as well much lower than Ian’s, so that they decided they will find a sponsor for that.

Der Anfang dieser Geschichte liegt einige Monate zurück. Im November kam ich mit Ian in Kontakt, der die Kletterwand im Sportzentrum „The Dome“ zum laufen bringen wollte. Über etwa einen Monat lief alles sehr gut an, doch dann ließ er alles fallen. Irgendwie passte es nicht zwischen ihm und der Leitung. Aber so ganz habe ich die Geschichte nicht verstanden. Aber dennoch kam ich mir hilflos vor. Ich kann da ja nichts daran ändern. Oder etwa doch?
Im Dezember bin ich von einer Beach Volleyball Gruppe aufgenommen worden, die sich immer mal wieder an der Mole trifft um zum Spaß zu spielen. Und in einer Pause zwischen den Matches komme ich mit Dave in Kontakt. Er arbeitet für das Sportzentrum als Manager. Und plötzlich war die Kletterwand wieder im Gespräch. Sie wollen die wirklich zum laufen bekommen, aber brauchen jemand der es organisiert. Ähm ja, ich mach das! Und schon sitze ich die Woche drauf mit 3 Männern in einem Meeting. Alles Businessmänner. Und ich. Aktive Sportlerin. Nur kein wirklichen Hintergrund in der Kletterwelt. Interessiert hier aber keinen, solange ich das in die Hand nehmen will steht mir nichts im Weg.


Back in Germany I decided to do a belay course in the climbing gym in Stuttgart which has a simulater to catch as many falls as possible. In these two hours I have to say I learned a lot about safety in belaying and different versions of belaying. End of March I arrived back in Namibia with all the gear I still needed and then it was getting serious.

Zurück in Deutschland habe ich mich in einen Sicherungskurs am Simulator eingeschrieben. So viel Wissen wie möglich über das Klettern mitgenommen. Etwas Ausrüstung eingekauft und Ende März mit all dem wieder in Namibia angekommen. Und dann wurde es Ernst.


On the 4th of April I had my first students on the wall. Most of them obviously kids. With kids I never had problems to work with. We just connect like that. And the coaching just happens from itself. Remember the person watching next to the field is always the best soccer player. He always knows everything better. And yes, that is what I am doing right now. Standing at the bottom and commenting. Coaching the people on the routes on the wall.

Am 4. April war die Eröffnung der Kletterwand und die ersten Interessenten kamen auch schon. Die meisten offensichtlich Kinder. Mit denen hatte ich noch nie Probleme zurechtzukommen. Und das coachen passiert dann wie von selbst. Ihr wisst ja, die Person am Spielfeldrand ist immer der beste Sportler, da er doch alles besser weiß. Und das bin ich jetzt. Diejenige die unten steht und hoch an die Wand ruft wie welcher Griff erreicht werden kann.


Especially in the first 2 weeks I did a lot of belaying. Beside my friends no one else can belay and I didn’t wanna have kids belaying each other. Not yet. They should first learn the basics about climbing and then in the next step belaying.

Vor allem in den ersten beiden Wochen habe ich recht viel gesichert. Ich meine ich kann die Kinder sich nicht selbst sichern lassen. Zumindest am Anfang nicht. Die sollen erst die Grundlagen vom Klettern erlernen und geht es zum nächsten Schritt über.


In the meantime I trained a daughter and her mother in belaying so far that even the mom trusts her daughter while she is up on the wall. Trust is a big part in climbing. You need to be able to trust your partner. Otherwise don’t even think about climbing. And with all that knowledge I learned in the belaying course I could pass a lot of it on.

Mittlerweile habe ich schon eine Tochter und ihre Mutter im Sichern trainiert. So weit, dass jetzt auch die Mutter ihrer eigenen Tochter vertraut während sie selbst


The best time is always between 6pm and 8pm. Most kids are gone by that time and then it is my climbing time. Either Peter, Bones or Dawie, one of them is always there so that I have a climbing partner and get to have fun on the wall as well. And they are the reason why I started it. So that we can go climbing. So that we can practise on the wall for the climbing on the rocks. So that we can get better in climbing. And just that we can have fun together.


The walls where we climb on is in a side hall of the big center which is used as a storage room. Means every time there is something which has to be moved out of the way, but in the meantime all the workers know me as well and help me whenever I need to move something heavy. We are cooperating.


From my chair I have to perfect view to the volleyball field and the obstacles there the skaters jump over. Kids on rollerblades and hockey sticks fly past. Enough entertainment.


The overhang was the first challenge we added on since I started. In a conversation with the top manager of the Dome I got the time to complain about all these loud machines next to my ear. The guy, German as well, promised me it will be over by the end of the week and from next week on they would build new boards for my wall. Wow exciting news and since he is german I actually believed that it would happen and not like most other things in this country stay empty promises.
The next week I walk in the hall swearing again because they are still working in my room. But wait. They work on the climbing boards. Damn this guy was right. I like german management. But in the ending of the working day I get to laugh about the african mentality again. Obviously the workers are all black african (I am not racist, I just point out facts) and once the clocks turns 5pm they drop all their gear and go home. I mean that is until they work and not longer. And it won’t make a difference that 5 holes are not finished. Now they have to finish it the next day and then it still has to dry again another day. But that is not how they think. And anyway stop complaining. They are working for you.


And the very next week the boards are up and you didn’t prepare for it. I need to organise another anchor point for the top rope and bolts for the grips, because I still have enough grips but no more bolts to fix them on the wall.


I will send you updates as soon as I did my job and organised more gear and anything interesting is happening in here.

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