NICAS – the National Indoor Climbing Achievement Scheme was launched in 2008 aimed at young people who wish to learn to climb on indoor climbing structures and administered by the Association of British Climbing Walls. The minimum age is 7, but there is no upper limit and actually anyone can undertake the scheme. There are 5 levels: Foundation, Top Rope, Technical, Lead and Advanced Climber. Ali Taylor is a qualified provider and assessor of NICAS. She Introduced the scheme to the students of Malvern St James 3 years ago and for the first time has coached climbers to Level 4 – Lead Climber.
The 4 Brunei girls: Mari, Atikah, Hani and Bella are small and light and therefore a perfect build for climbing. They took to the scheme immediately and were keen to progress. Their climbing developed swiftly with good movement and footwork skills and with bouldering came the opportunity to perfect techniques and learn how to climb overhangs.
But it wasn’t until they became lead climbers that they really blossomed. Ali was amazed how quickly they learnt to clip, adjusting their body position to get good balance and how their footwork became more precise. All four girls are very determined and having learnt to belay and take leader falls they are more confident to push through the move rather than sit back on the rope. It is very rare than any of them will give up. All 4 are competently leading 5+, and Hani led her first 6a recently.
Mari was reluctant to take her first leader fall, but discovered when she did, (although she did let out a little scream) it wasn’t as bad as she expected. Ali has really enjoyed teaching the girls and is looking forward to taking them to Symonds Yat and real rock in the summer. She will miss them when they leave in July.