Ruby (left) and sister Grace Friend, along with Drew Forrest, are looking to take rock climbing to new heights in Nelson. Photo: Andrew Board.

Drew and Ruby climb wall of success


Drew Forrest and Ruby Friend each earned national lead rock climbing titles across a three round series completed last week in Auckland.

For Drew it’s not a bad effort, considered he had to scale a 16 metre wall despite having a fear of heights.

“Climbing was something I did to try to beat my fear of heights.

“I wasn’t expecting to win, so it was good.

Lead is rope climbing where the rope comes with you, while bouldering is no ropes where you fall onto a mat.

“Lead is more about endurance; it starts out easy and gets progressively harder, while bouldering is about technique and balance.

Drew says his dad Barry used to bring him down to Vertical Limits in Nelson as a child, but he only took it seriously three years ago.

“This season especially I’ve trained a lot harder, going for placings.

“I had a fear of heights still, so trying this sport is a way of trying to get past that.”

Drew says he would like to make the New Zealand world championships team next year, but knows it will be tough when he leaves Nelson College for University.

Ruby, who has international experience, says she’s always enjoyed the mental challenge of the fringe sport.

“Climbing is like problem solving, where you put your feet and your hands and the best way to climb.”

The Nelson College for Girls pupil will go to the world championships in China in November and, with the sport having just been added to the 2020 Olympics, Ruby says she’s excited by the prospect.

“I don’t know if New Zealand would qualify as New Zealand is quite new to the sport.”

The next focus will be the national lead championships in Christchurch and bouldering championships in Wellington, where Ruby will compete for prize money. Ruby’s younger sister Grace also competed and finished ninth in her grade, while Barry competed in the veterans section.