Rocking business

PEBBLES is the name of the rock climbing program for the under-eights at Portside Boulders in O’Connor.

So I guess that makes veterans boulders or boondies.

Clinging precariously to colourful handholds you’ll find a mix of young and old, working up a sweat as they assail man-made rock faces.

“We have members in their 60s down to eight-year olds,” co-owner Pip Girling says.

Climbing is not just a physical workout, it also gets the grey matter working as climbers try to work out the best route to the top.

“Around the English-speaking world, each climb is called a problem,” Girling says.

• Daring climbers at Portside Boulders in O’Connor. Photos supplied

“You are solving a puzzle,” business partner Ferdinand Renouard Lariviere adds.

Every week the position of the holds in the walls are changed to keep things from getting stale.

Girling says climbing is a fantastic way to focus young minds, and the mother of an autistic child was delighted to see her son taking on the challenge.

“She said it was the first time she’d seen him engaged,” Girling says.

“You have no choice when hanging on for dear life,” Renouard Lariviere chimes in. “It puts you in the zone.”

Falling is par for the course, but massive mats ensure nobody gets hurt.

Girling’s and Renouard Lariviereís’ love of climbing started when they were introduced to the sport at South Fremantle High School.

After graduating they worked in offices for five years, satisfying their thirst for excitement with climbing gyms and rock faces in their spare time.

During their climbs, separately and together, the pair hatched a dream of opening their own climbing gym.

“After 240 skype calls and 537 emails we finally decided to quit our jobs and get to work,”Girling says.

Unlike rope climbing, there’s no training or equipment necessary, apart from shoes which can be hired.

Renouard Lariviere says newbies watch a short safety video and get briefed on climbing etiquette.

“From there you just climb. You can come here on a whim—all you need is shorts and a shirt.”

The sport is big overseas and growing in popularity in Australia.

“Shenton College is coming in next week for four weeks,”Girling says.

Portside holds classes and regular competitions, including the upcoming Boulder Comp on Saturday May 19.

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