ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Ritesh, happily posing with his students at the Adventure Breaks Solstice Climbing Wall in Socorro.
ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Ritesh, happily posing with his students at the Adventure Breaks Solstice Climbing Wall in Socorro.Photo: Katia Goes

Get a foothold one step at a time at this climbing gym in Goa

The Solstice Climbing Wall, run by Adventure Breaks, is helping kids conquer their fear of heights, all under the tutelage of national silver medalist rock climber, Ritesh

“I can’t,” called out the little girl who was trying to climb up the rocky wall and touch the orange hold. “Try, try, try, left leg here,” replied an encouraging voice from behind her. This voice belongs to Ritesh Kudtarkar, a professional rock climber, slackliner and most recently, a patient and kind teacher.

Voices have guided us our entire lives. Some encouraging, and others which are criticism disguised as apparent ‘truth bombs’ and ‘reality checks’.

ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Ritesh, happily posing with his students at the Adventure Breaks Solstice Climbing Wall in Socorro.
Kayaking into the silence of Galgibaga in Goa

When we were younger, listening to these external voices is what shaped our ideas about ourselves and the world around us.

But as adults, we have come to realise that sometimes, the voice that matters the most is the one that we use to talk to ourselves after listening to the people that have helped us shape who we are today – be it God, our parents, or that one kind teacher that never gave up on us, eventually it all connects.

WHAT YOU NEED: Ritesh says that rock climbing requires finger strength and core strength.
WHAT YOU NEED: Ritesh says that rock climbing requires finger strength and core strength. Photo: Katia Goes

Having started climbing at the age of 13, Ritesh is now a 20-year-old national silver medalist rock climber and spends most of his time rock climbing, participating in competitions and teaching rock climbing.

Ritesh loves kids, “There are around five kids that I teach at The Kings School in Margao, 30 students at The Gera School at the Kadamba Plateau, and a handful of kids here,” he says. Additionally, Ritesh also joined the Adventure Breaks Solstice Climbing Wall in Socorro around seven months ago.

A FRIEND IN NEED: The word 'impossible' does not exist in Ritesh's dictionary when it comes to climbing.
A FRIEND IN NEED: The word 'impossible' does not exist in Ritesh's dictionary when it comes to climbing. Photo: Katia Goes

“It’s been great,” he smiles as he assists little Aidan up the wall by placing a firm hand on his back for support. Apart from physical support, Ritesh always has the right words of motivation to keep the kids climbing higher, even if it is just one more step.

As for his preferences, if it were up to Ritesh, you would find him mostly involved in trad climbing and natural rock climbing, which, he says, he loves.

SNACK BREAK: Staying hydrated and well-fed is a must.
SNACK BREAK: Staying hydrated and well-fed is a must. Photo: Katia Goes

When asked to share what the most difficult part of the job is, he struggles to think before saying, “I can’t think of anything.” And that is an example of the quote by Marc Anthony that says: If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.

“The best part about being a teacher is that the kids are always full of wonder and up to trying something new,” he adds as he ties the shoelaces of a student and asks her, “you want to climb here?”

CAN YOU HELP ME: Ritesh ties the laces of one of his young students.
CAN YOU HELP ME: Ritesh ties the laces of one of his young students. Photo: Katia Goes

As for the order of business, the first thing that Ritesh teaches his students is how to climb, what ‘holds’ are, how to grab the holds, how to put your feet on the wall and the basics.

His goals include, “walking on the 300 mts slackline, climbing virgin routes and participating in the IFSC Climbing World Cup someday,” he says with hope shining in his eyes.

ALL THE WAY UP: Did you know that rock climbing is an Olympic sport?
ALL THE WAY UP: Did you know that rock climbing is an Olympic sport? Photo: Katia Goes

“I touched the top, Ritesh, I climbed that orange one,” said little Franky, who along with the others was excited to see his teacher climb up the ‘Red Rocks’ wall effortlessly. They believe that there is no wall that their teacher would not be able to handle.

WATCH AND LEARN: Until the students become the master, they watch and learn.
WATCH AND LEARN: Until the students become the master, they watch and learn. Photo: Katia Goes

The hammock swings at the Solstice Climbing Wall, as Ritesh stands and watches the kids who have now roped in one of their parents to take a shot at trying rock climbing. “You have big fingers, it will be easy for you,” the kids encourage.

Ritesh laughs. There is nothing that can beat the innocence of a child and the satisfaction of a happy teacher who sees his students taking up after him.

WHERE: Adventure Breaks Solstice Climbing Wall, Socorro, Porvorim

CONTACT: +91 8975841178 / +91 7020128054

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