Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Climbing Works Visit

Recently I found myself near Sheffield helping out on some climbing courses. Unfortunately its miles from where I live so I had to stay away from home which is a bit of a drag. To make the best of a frustrating situation I decided to use the time to my advantage and pay a visit to The Climbing Works, Britain and perhaps the worlds premier bouldering wall.

What is it?

The Climbing Works

The Climbing Works is basically a big wear house specifically designed to cater towards bouldering of all levels from beginner to international level athletes. This means that there are no ropes used and you can pretty much fall off with 'relative safety'. The walls vary in difficulty by using different types of holds, more complicated moves and overhangs.

What did I get up to?

I was in the area to help on a Beginners climbing course with Pure Outdoor. I found that I had some time on the Sunday to go in to Sheffield and have a quick look at a wall that was recommended to me by the instructor who I was shadowing. I went and headed straight to The Climbing Works.
I initially went to just have a look around and do some bouldering by myself. I walked in, paid a one time lifetime registration fee of £6 and a one off session cost of £6 (Which I think is not too bad) and started taking some pictures. Whilst marvelling at the set up and the scale of the walls compared to what I have experienced before I noticed an advertisement for free 1.5 hour adult climbing sessions twice weekly.
As luck would have it, I heard over the PA system that a class was happening in just under 5 minutes. So needless to say I ran to the front desk and asked if I could join in. They were happy to let me do so even though they were half way through their 8 week cycle.

The Climbing Works

I joined the session and our coach for the day gave the new people (myself included) a quick run down of what they had done in previous weeks but then went straight into the lessons focus for the week. Naturally then it would have to be a stamina session. This involved doing all 40 or so green routes (the easiest routes) in the complex within an hour and then moving on to the red routes if we had time. We did this in pairs and myself and my climbing buddy managed to get on to the red routes within the time given to us. Once we hit that hour we did a conditioning session and cool down, which consisted of some brilliant isomeric core holds and some good stretches.

After the cool down we were left to our own devices, either to work more on technique or just go home. I was desperate to get home so decided enough was enough and headed back down south.

What do I think of The Climbing Works


If you can't tell I think The Climbing Works is one of the best if not the best bouldering walls I have visited. The set up has been clearly thought about to maximise use of space and encourage a diverse range of problems (bouldering routes) to suite every level of climber, at the far end there is a competition level wall with world class route setting.

The Climbing Works

There are a couple of lounging areas dotted around should you want to have a rest and finger boards for grip strengthening. They have a cafe where they offer a free beverage to anyone who has walked or cycled to the centre and convenient lockers for those who want to keep their belongings out of reach. The building as a whole is well looked after and as clean as it can be with heavy use of chalk and best of all does not smell of bad feet like my local wall. They also have a Mini Works in a separate building geared towards teach children how to climb, which can only be a good thing with climbing attempting to become an olympic sport. Hopefully this will help to cultivate future generations of awesome climbers way better than I will ever be.

The other stuff

The staff are friendly and welcoming, they give you all the information you require on their routes and where the necessary information is should you need to have a closer look, for example what colours are what grades. The free adult sessions I think is an inspired idea and encourages regular use of the wall but also the actual progression of an adults climbing which will only encourage them to continue to get better in a safe and efficient manner and ultimately enjoy climbing more.
The session itself was fun, hard work and even though this time not aimed at technique, I learnt more about how to climb and movement than I have done on my own. I failed at two climbs towards the end as I was getting tired so I know it certainly made me work and with added conditioning my core was shredded. These lessons I think are invaluable as I know first hand there is nothing more frustrating than trying to learn on your own and feeling like you are getting no where.
The wall seems centred around having fun with a very varying degree of route types with a slide in one area I think geared towards kids, though I'm pretty sure I saw a few adults sliding down it while I was there, again there seemed to be no pretence, it was just about the climbing and having a good time.

Wrap Up

All in all I'd say if you have never climbed before, or even if you have, if you find yourself in Sheffield make your way to The Climbing Works. Take your kids to The Mini Works and have a go yourself, Its brilliant. The team have hit the nail on the head when it comes to accessible and competition level bouldering in one place with the ethos of British climbing showing strongly through their approach.

Any of you been there, what do you think of The Climbing Works? Let me know in the comment section below.

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