Adarsh Singh is a 19 year old climber from New Delhi. He is still a relatively unknown figure in mainstream sports but in the sport of climbing, he is a force to reckon with. This year after his visit of Badami he told me that, he completed Ganesha in only seven tries. A feat that shows his skill and the progression of the Indian climbing scene. Along with Sandeep Kumar Maity, Ajiz Sheikh and Gaurav Gupta, he is the one of the few people to have climbed a boulder problem which is graded 8a or harder. The most fascinating thing about Adarsh is his will to succeed. In the following interview we talk about his experience and his drive to perform.
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How does it feel to be one of the top climbers in our country today?
Feels pretty normal.
Every successful journey has its own share of failures. The people familiar with you know your top achievements, but what were the moments when you failed, when you felt shut down and how did you come out of it?
2014 when I went to try Ganesha, I injured myself trying the second move. I came back feeling that I didn’t have the power required to finish it. I always try my hardest, so giving up wasn’t easy. I have had my share of failures in life. I have experienced losing in zonals for 3 consecutive years but, I still trained. Then this year the stars aligned and I won zonals, nationals and finally finished Ganesha in one session. One only needs to push oneself, I think.
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What is success for you? When you are climbing in the gym you have a really easy-going attitude whereas in the competition one competes to win. How do you switch your mindset, especially when competing against friends? What value does a competition hold for you in a sport like climbing where one mostly competes with oneself?
When I compete with my friends it’s hard for me. In 2014 nationals I had to compete against a good friend and because of me he couldn’t compete in the finals. I regret the fact till today but it’s important for me to prove myself, not for others but for my own sake and I get to do that in competitions.
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Which climbers in India motivate you and which ascents are you most awed by?
I climb on rocks to improve my technique, I want to improve myself, that’s the importance that rocks hold for me, I don’t have the patience to session again and again so I like to finish my projects in a day. I just want to improve by climbing on rocks. Winning, standing on the podium gives me a lot of inspiration so that is more important for me right now.
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What do you do for your mental training? And what’s a normal training day like, especially when you have to train within a limited infrastructure with aim to compete in international competitions with a totally different setup?
I have seen friends, climbing under pressure in competitions. I just try to stay relaxed. Once I get in front of the wall it’s just me and the route. Recently at Girivihar nationals, my friend Pranav told me to compete even though I wasn’t in my best shape but, I managed to win. It was then that I realized that when you are psyched, you don’t really need any other motivation. You know you have trained and you will give your best. If you give everything during your training then you don’t really have to worry during competitions. It’s more execution I think.
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As far as I know? You travel all around the year, don’t you miss your home with its comforts; and how hard is it to maintain a romantic relationship?
I have never been in a relationship; it’s hard for me ‘cause of my sport which keeps me on my toes. Right now I just want to get better, that’s the only focus in life. I had an on and off relationship but that didn’t work out well and besides I am still too young. Homesickness! I don’t really think about it too much but once my mother starts missing me I have to get back home come rain or snow.
How was your first world-cup experience like?
I knew about the world cup scene, used to see a lot of videos and followed climbers. I used to train a lot before the world cup but I just didn’t have the experience required to win. I trained alone in Bangkok for the competition. Climbing alone taught me a lot. I trained for 10 hours in the starting days and after the first 2 days I could not even lift a coffee mug in the morning. Then slowly I got adjusted to the rhythm. All world–cup climbers have the same strengths you know. All one needs is the experience required to pull oneself through. I was placed 28th but I could have placed better. This year I might have a better shot.
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At 15 years you became the first Indian to climb an 8a plus route? How did that happen?
Yeah …this one’s interesting. So this was the first time I was visiting Badami, I reached and enquired where Kumar Gaurav was and was told that he was trying the route Samsara. The route was so above and beyond me that I had to strain my neck to see past the fourth clip. The route is long, even longer than Ganesha. On my first try I couldn’t even clip the second bolt. The next day I wanted to go and climb something else but since my friends were still trying Samsara so I had to try it as well. I tried all the moves on the second day, came down and slept at the base. When I woke up Kumar had done the route. He was really happy that got me psyched. I gave it all I had and finished it in my third go.
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You are progressing towards your goals but you are also creating a path for the younger generations to follow, what are some of the climbs that you have established and want to see repeated?
I just want to tell the next generation that they should go outside and climb. Climbing outdoors makes you realize the importance that an indoor gym holds, which is essentially for training. I am going to complete a project in Manali (King Line). Let’s see if that goes down, it will be around 8a-8a+. If someone repeats that, it will be sweet. The problem with me I think is that if I start climbing outside then I am no good for competitions. Right now I just want to become a world champion and there are too many things to seek out before I achieve that level. I am more concentrated towards that side right now. I see the new generation of climbers in India and, they are climbing at a totally different level than we were back in our time. I want to show the next generation that an Indian climber with limited resources can become a world-champion. If I can do it then I am sure I will contribute something solid for them.
Adarsh is preparing for the 2017 world cup , he isn’t helped financially by any sponsors yet. And supports his climbing by managing everything himself. He knows that the way ahead is tough but he also knows that he is inspiring many dreamers by keeping it this way.