Dockyard rock climbing program reaching new heights 

Participants help a climber get set up to scale the wall. NATHAN STONE

Dockyard rock climbing program reaching new heights 

By Nathan Stone,
Trident Staff 

MCpl Matthew English said it’s been great to see climbers advance in the sport and pass their new skills on to others. NATHAN STONE

 A unique workday exercise program is gaining popularity at the Fleet Fitness and Sport Centre at His Majesty’s Canadian (HMC) Dockyard. Three days a week, rock climbers of all skill levels meet up to ascend the gym’s large indoor climbing wall.   

Open to all Canadian Armed Forces and defence team members, the program seeks to promote the sport of rock climbing and to provide its participants with an engaging way to fit in an extra workout. The program currently runs from 11 a.m. -1 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday and 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Tuesday each week.  

Sailor 1st Class (S1) Shawn MacLeod oversees and promotes the program as part of an on-the-job training position with Personnel Support Services (PSP) Halifax. He’s an avid rock climber who’s been recruiting participants to the program through word of mouth. He says he’s meeting a lot of newcomers that are looking to try out a new sport. 

The indoor climbing wall has multiple routes designed by S1 MacLeod to offer a range of difficulties. Beginners can climb straight to the top, while veterans can challenge themselves by tackling paths with overhangs and fewer hand grips, requiring more strength and coordination. 

Participants aren’t required to purchase any climbing gear as the program provides all the equipment needed. Novice climbers will receive training in how to climb safely, and S1 MacLeod says that everyone participating so far has had a good first climb.  

“Everybody’s got smiles on their faces and they’re happy trying something new.”  

The program has lately received an influx of participants from the ship’s company of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown. That’s thanks to the efforts of Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2) Lyndon Eustache. He’s been a champion for the program amongst the crew, encouraging his shipmates to attend with him.  

“I wanted the other guys to see if they would enjoy doing the wall, and there was a great opportunity during the workday for us to come down and learn.” 

The unique nature of rock climbing is what PO2 Eustache says draws him to the sport. 

“For me it’s different from conventional sports… It gets people out of their comfort zones.” 

PO2 Eustache is one of a core group of experienced climbers that help train new participants. That group also includes Master Corporal (MCpl) Matthew English, who says that he enjoys the cycle of helping new climbers gain experience and then seeing those climbers help others get into the sport.  

“The person that mentored with you then starts mentoring a new climber.” 

The climbers said their goal for the near future is to continue promoting and growing the program – they encouraged any interested colleagues to drop in and give climbing a try.

There will be associated fees for the open evening climbs. Equipment rentals are free. Lunch time climbs/unit PT have no associated costs, including equipment. For updates and more information –