By Morgan Hume, Contributing Writer
SHREWSBURY – As Olympic athletes were competing in rock climbing in the Olympics this past summer, a Shrewsbury teenager was putting his climbing skills to the test here at home. Anshul Dadwal, now a senior at Saint John’s High School, has traveled across the country to compete in rock climbing competitions.
Beginning to climb
Dadwal has spent most of his life rock climbing. His father helped spark his love for the sport by showing him how to climb when he was around three years old. His love for it only grew and he started learning how to rock climb indoors around the age of five.
“At first, I didn’t really want to fall because I was scared I was going to get hurt,” said Dadwal.
“But I just got used to it.”
By the age of 10, Dadwal was getting more serious about his skills, and his journey only speeded ahead from there.
Climber earns spot in major competition
Dadwal competes in various rock climbing competitions. Specifically, he competed at the USA climbing nationals in Reno, Nevada, over the summer for bouldering and sport climbing, after qualifying for both at regionals.
“I didn’t do as well as I wanted, but I can go next year and do better,” said Dadwal.
The trip to Nevada, indeed, came after hours of hard work and dedication.
Dadwal practices three days a week in Worcester, learning from coaches who help him work to improve his weaknesses.
He also competes in open competitions, where climbers of all ages can participate. He said that gave him experience competing against adults, who are older and could have more experience than him.
Pandemic interrupts climbing routine
For some time, Dadwal wasn’t able to participate in the types of competitions where he’s excelled due to the pandemic.
Although Dadwal has an eight-foot-tall rock wall set up in his garage, he said that last year was
challenging because he couldn’t visit the gym like he normally did.
“I didn’t really notice how much I missed competing until the pandemic happened and I couldn’t compete anymore….” said Dadwal. “It was pretty boring without climbing.”
Advice for other climbers
Dadwal was once a beginner too. And while many are afraid of falling or reaching new heights, he has advice for those looking to get into the sport.
Dadwal said in order to become a well-rounded climber, people need to work on a variety of skills instead of only building upon their strengths.
His other piece of advice is to bring along some friends and try climbing simply for fun.
“Don’t worry about not being able to do the hard stuff and just have fun,” said Dadwal. “You don’t need to do any workouts or anything, just climb.”
‘There’s way harder stuff that I can try’
As Dadwal finishes up his high school career, he plans to compete at nationals again next year.
He is also looking toward the future, and he said he wants to spend more time climbing
outdoors and visiting places in New England that could offer him more of a challenge. He said that, someday, he hopes to travel to Spain or California to complete more outdoor climbing.
“At the climbing gym, they’re only set to a certain level, but outside there’s way harder stuff that I can try and I really want to try,” said Dadwal.