Shooting webs from his wrists and swinging through the city, Spiderman is one of the most popular Marvel superheroes. While it is impossible for us to hang from the ceiling by only our fingertips, there is a sport that might just resemble the superpower of the spider-bitten Peter Parker – Climbing.
Petite, slim and sunkissed. These are the first impressions of Boey Tse, an Assistant Manager from Property Management at Link who is also a climbing fanatic. Active since young, Boey was a big fan of various extra-curricular activities in school, where she first experienced sport climbing. The adrenaline pump and the sense of achievement of the sport captured her heart, and climbing became a part of her life ever since. Boey’s talent was soon discovered by a climbing coach and after a series of formal trainings, she bagged two golds at two citywide competitions in 2010 and 2013.
Boey is a regular climber, and two or three days a week, she turns into “Spiderwoman” with her friends after work. Outdoor climbing sites are usually preferred, though sometimes the weather refuses to comply so indoor bouldering gyms are also frequented by the group.
When asked about the differences between climbing and bouldering, Boey pointed out although both of them have planned routes, the height, venue and equipment of them vary: the height of climbing sites normally reach 10 metres and can take place on natural rocks or an artificial climbing wall. Climbing in government-regulated sites also requires sport climbing certifications and safety equipment like safety straps and helmets. Bouldering, on the other hand, is commonly known as “indoor climbing”. The height of the climbing walls is limited to five metres and climbing gears are optional for boulderers, except for the safety mats on the floor to prevent injuries from falling. Boey added: “Although bouldering sounds easier with fewer constraints, indoor bouldering walls can have routes of varying difficulties and some could be more challenging than climbing mountains!
It has been more than 10 years since Boey first started her climbing journey. A decade is not long, but more than enough for Boey to leave her footprints in almost all climbing spots in Hong Kong. She felt that this city could no longer feed her adventurous soul so she went to Krabi in Thailand with her friends to conquer foreign mountains. “I still remember it was a one-week trip in 2010 and all we did then was climbing and eating. The climbing spot was just a few steps from the beach where we would lay on to take some rest. It was an otherworldly and secluded heaven for us,” Boey recalled with a hint of excitement. Now, Boey visits Krabi with her friends almost every year and she strongly recommends the place: “Krabi boasts magnificent view with diverse rocks, crystal-clear water and smooth beaches. It’s an unbeatable place to have fun!”
The pandemic has drawn people’s attention to their health and reignited their interest in exercising. The inclusion of Sport Climbing* in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics also boosted the popularity of the sport in Hong Kong. It is evident with all the bouldering gyms springing up that this niche sport might be approaching its high tide, and
Boey could be not more excited: “The popularisation of the sport has led to more bouldering spots with modern design. This is definitely good news for both beginners and veterans like me.” Boey has some advice for those who want to learn climbing: first of all, get rid of the fear of heights. The sport is also physically demanding so regular self-practices are essential to improve your skills and overall strength. As Boey emphasised: “The key is perseverance. When you first start climbing, you probably won’t be able to finish the whole route and the next day your body will feel like hell. This is perfectly normal. As long as you keep practicing, the time will come when you realise that you have made progress.”
Boey’s passion in climbing also shapes her personal qualities. Indeed, she sees several similarities between the sport and her work, such as the need for multi-perspective thinking: “Climbers know that there are infinite routes from the bottom to the top. This also applies to my work in property management, so I always do self-reflection and look for areas to improve. After all, perfection is not always possible and I would like to provide the best service for my customers.” All these years of being “Spiderwoman” also taught Boey to be visionary. The battle between humans and nature sounds one-sided: just imagine you are standing in front of a mountain so tall that you can’t even see the top. The fact that you are about to conquer it might feel formidable. Intimidating. Maybe even petrifying. Boey thinks differently: “The harder it seems, the more faith you need to have in yourself, and the more focus you need on the end goal. It is just the same with everything else in life.”
Sport Climbing is one of the new sports in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. There are three disciplines, namely speed climbing, lead climbing and bouldering. The combined results of all disciplines are used to determine the ranking.
Two climbers simultaneously race on parallel lanes on a 15-metre climbing wall with a designated route and the faster one wins.
The climber climbs a 15-metre climbing wall within six minutes. Holds have different scores and the climbers are ranked based on the farthest hold they were able to reach. If multiple climbers reach the top, they are ranked by their time.
Climbers need to spend four minutes on each of the four routes on a 4.5-metre climbing wall. No safety equipment is used except for floor pads. Ranking criteria is the same as lead climbing.