Youngsters learn to scale new heights

Meet the kids who have gone to great heights to represent their country.

And it’s a real family affair as two siblings and three brothers are among the elite group of skilled young climbers from the fledgling Cork Youth Climbing Club who have been selected to climb for Ireland at a major international climbing competition in Scotland this summer.

Hanna D’Aughton, 10, and her brother, Cormac, 7, as well as the Flynn brothers — Sean, 11, Eoin, 12, and Jack, 14 — will strap themselves into their harnesses and rope up alongside Clodagh Corbett, 9, Luke Egan, 10, and David Cussen, 14, to tackle routes on one of Britain’s toughest climbing walls at the Great Britain and Ireland Youth Climbing Series’ grand final in Ratho, Edinburgh, on June 23.

It follows their success at the Youth Climbing Series national event in Belfast last month, organised by the Mountaineering Council of Ireland and the British Mountaineering Council.

It is a huge achievement for the club which was founded just last year. The club is based at the climbing wall at UCC’s Mardyke Arena.

“Our central aim is to develop the sport of climbing among young people in Cork,” Cork Youth Climbing Club spokesman Mark D’Aughton said.

“Much of what is now taking place has been built on the work of Damien O’Sullivan who, before any talk of forming a club, took it upon himself to invite these young climbers to the climbing wall in the Mardyke, and discover for themselves what they can do.”

The Cork club, which caters for climbers aged seven to 18, meets every Thursday night where they work on rock climbing and rope skills on UCC’s three-metre high climbing wall.

But they are facing their biggest challenge in Scotland next month when they will have to tackle routes on a wall up to 15-metres high.

“We will be encouraging them to push themselves and compete as much as they can, and to have fun. To fly the flag and have fun,” Mr D’Aughton said.

While there are inherent risks in the sport, he said the club’s qualified instructors teach their members how to minimise those risks.

“This isn’t like kicking a ball in the back garden. But it’s just about teaching different skills.

“It about concentration and not letting little things get in the way.

“The sport teaches independence and confidence, self-reliance and communication, how to look out for other people, and respecting the rock and the environment.”

He said the ultimate aim of the club is to produce fully competent climbers capable of tackling outdoor routes by themselves.

As well as the regular weekly sessions, club members take part in monthly away meets at various climbing venues, both indoors and outdoors.



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