Kenton Cool and Hazel Findlay

Our ambassadors are mountaineer and guide Kenton Cool (recently returned from a 12th Everest summit); and world class Bristol climber Hazel Findlay. Hazel was the first British woman to free climb El Capitan in Yosemite, California.

Kenton Cool closeupWhen approached and asked if they would be interested in becoming NICAS ambassadors, Kenton and Hazel jumped at the opportunity. Kenton recalls some of his younger adventurous exploits and how NICAS could have helped him avoid learning the hard way. "Climbing has totally defined my life and has done so since I first ventured down my local climbing wall. I was hooked at once but the path I took to where I am now was rather ad hoc, full of pitfalls and danger, as I literally taught myself. The NICAS scheme provides a framework that inspires adventure with a safety net. I sometimes look back at my learning and shudder at the close shaves."

Hazel Findlay (credit Stephen Ford Horne)For Hazel her ’safety net’ when learning to climb was her father but she comments that not everyone has the same opportunity. "I was lucky to have a dad who climbs, but many other young people are not so fortunate. Before Guy Jarvis (NICAS founder) approached me about becoming an ambassador I’d seen the scheme practiced at my local climbing wall. It always looked like fun and both the young people involved and the parents seemed to be getting a great deal out of it. I think I would have benefitted more had I learnt to climb alongside children my own age, learning from each others’ successes and mistakes. Not to mention the fun element as well. I feel honoured to be an ambassador for the scheme."

NICAS is an introduction to climbing and is a gateway to learning more about the sport. Whilst concentrating on indoor climbing, those who progress through to levels 4 and 5 are required to look wider and learn more about the history, ethics and styles of both indoor and outdoor climbing. "Some young people will take advantage of what they have learned and will go on additional courses to transfer their skills outside whereas some will be content to stay indoors." adds Hazel. "Either way NICAS is introducing more young people to the sport having motivated young people coming up through the ranks can only help climbing develop as a sport in the UK on a competitive level."

Kenton adds, "As an ambassador I’m looking forward to meeting and helping to inspire young climbers who have worked hard through the scheme. To improve in any sport, it’s about goal setting and NICAS sets out to do just that."

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