Bringing rock climbing to Maharashtra
by Eleanor Shelton
It was a rare slip when Sujay Kawale lost his grip while climbing a difficult route at Planet Rock in October. Though his belayer caught him safely, many other climbers at the west-side gym were watching--and Mike Wilkinson got it all on video. The local videographer and passionate climber had a camera operator behind the wall and a GoPro camera at the top.
Wilkinson and Kawale, an automotive engineer, met at a climbers' meet-up at Planet Rock. Now they're collaborating on a video documenting Kawale's quest to bring their sport to India. "In India, fitness is not as big as it is in the U.S.," Kawale says. "I want to highlight the fun and adventure that rock climbing is and take advantage of the natural beauty of the country."
This month, Wilkinson will fly to India to record Kawale's presentation to the tourism board in his home state of Maharashtra, where funds have been set aside for recreational sports but never utilized. Kawale's goal is to begin a movement that will not only encourage fitness but also healthier eating, less pollution, and environmental awareness.
Back at Planet Rock, Kawale tried the climb again, and this time made it to the top successfully. Wilkinson got that on video, too. He has yet to decide which version he'll use when he completes the documentary next year.
[Originally published in December, 2013.]