Passionate Kashmiri girls take rock climbing to new heights

SRINAGAR: It was a unusual scene to watch young girls donning headscarves going up an artificial rock climbing wall at Tourist Reception Centre here during the three-day district rock climbing championship.
Headscarf may not be considered the most convenient attire for adventure sports. However, these young girls did not let it become a deterrent. Going from rock to rock, harnessed to a rope, most of the girls who participated in the championship did not find it difficult to take the rock climbing to new heights with their headscarves on.
Ifrah, 12, from Srinagar said it was her first experience at the rock climbing. “It’s totally cool and super fun. I just love it and want to do it again and again, even if I do not get any rank in the championship,” she said.
Another participant, Aamina Fajr, a 10-year-old from Anantnag secured third rank in the championship. “It feels really good. It was very exciting and adventurous. I wasn’t sacred at all. It’s just that I got blisters in my hands; otherwise I would have been able to climb the top. Since, this was my first experience; I am sure next time I will do much better,” said Aamina.
The active participation of rising number of girls in adventure sports, once a taboo for women in Kashmir, is being seen as a welcome change.
“Adventure sports were considered as men’s sport in Kashmir. But the scenario has changed. Today, women are equally participating in adventure sports, which is encouraging,” Rouf Tramboo, president Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir (ATOAK) told Kashmir Reader.
The rock climbing championship held at TRC Nowgam recorded 40 percent participation of girls.
“Our girls are no less than boys in adventure sports. The girls proved it at the rock climbing championship where girls and boys were seen climbing in equal terms. The change is inspiring and it’s great to see the change,” added Tramboo.
Parents too are serving as a driving force for many girls to participate in different adventure sports activities.
“There is nothing like gender-specific adventure sports. I don’t believe in gender bias. I come from a family where I was allowed to go outside state to pursue my engineering 25 years ago. I did not grow up amid a patriarchal system and I won’t let my daughter grow up in one. So, I encourage her more,” said Meenu Amin, whose daughter participated in the championship.