For many people climbing walls are the first taste they get of climbing. We have seen them develop from underused add-ons in sports centres to centres of excellence for national teams.
Not only has their form changed with advancements in materials and construction technology, but as dedicated centres have appeared the wall as a social hub has developed. 30 years ago the focus of community climbing was probably the pub, the brick wall interlaced with slate shelves and concrete platforms was only open on Tuesday nights as they had badminton on the rest of the week, but now we can climb every day of the week, spending time with like minded people doing a sport we love.
Soon our very own Dan Bradley will open a wall in Derby. The Climbing Unit is still under construction but his team have set themselves a punishing schedule which so far they have kept to. Here is a sneak preview of the proposed design.
The first hurdle was the building and location. A shabby industrial unit close to the Derby's Pentagon roundabout may not be everyone's first choice but this is a great location. Within 40 minutes you can get to it from Stoke, Chesterfield, Leicester and Nottingham and parking is going to be a doddle. Best of all it's going to be our closest wall.
The main competition wall is going to be 200m2 utilising the Entre-Prises MozaiK wall system which, as all budding rock stars will know, is the same one used in many World Cup events. For those of us who need to work up to the grade there will be other less steep walls including a 220m2 group training wall, again being built by Entre-Prises. The rest is being custom built in-house by an experienced team which will make a total of 1100m2 :this should make it one of the biggest facilities in the UK.
Don't underestimate the work involved when you build any wall: there is an awful lot of work that goes in to making those tiny little threaded holes, with each one needing to be drilled, have a special T-nut inserted and secured with two screws.
As the build progresses we will keep you informed, more to come in next month's newsletter. You can also follow progress on the Climbing Unit's Facebook page.
A short article about our own experiences with walls.
A potted history of climbing walls.
Think you can do better, info from the BMC.
There are some amazing walls here, we just wouldn't want to pay for them.