Watched the Olympics and fancy giving this climbing malarkey a go? We don’t blame you – we might have fallen in love with it for different reasons, but we still very much have the bug and want to share this fantastic sport with as many people as we can.
First things first – we are a bouldering centre. That speed climbing spectacular dash needs much higher walls than we have here. But let’s face it, it looks impressive, but it also looks exhausting right? Trust us, bouldering is way more fun.
For those of you who feel intimidated by heights, or worried about the lack of ropes, let’s talk particulars. Our walls are a maximum of 4.5 metres tall, but breaking that down, the top hold of a route might only be at 4 metres, which means if you are average height, your feet will only be 3 meters off the ground. And there are huge crash mats to land on too if you let go. Sounds a bit less scary that way doesn't it?
Without the ropes and the harnesses, there’s no need to worry about knots or getting tangled up. Bouldering is by far the most accessible, easiest way into the sport. Add in colour coded holds and you are away.
As for lead climbing on ropes on a huge overhanging wall that finished off the climbing at the Olympics – we have similar angled walls here, just much lower so if you want a core workout, you can have a play on them.
So now we’ve got your interest, what happens next?
Well, firstly you can just turn up, you don’t have to book a slot and you don’t need an induction or a lesson to get going. We recommend comfy clothes but really, you’ll soon discover anything goes – as long as it is decent!
You can rent shoes from reception, they will be made of a special rubber that will make it easier to grip the holds with your feet. We promise we won’t make you downsize them as much as the pros do – they often go two or three sizes down from their street shoe size. And no, their feet are not pretty as a result.
We are quieter in the daytime, busier in the evenings. If you want plenty of people to watch and copy, come along later in the day but if you want the place more to yourselves, rock up a bit earlier.
As for the climbing itself, while the pros at the Olympics made it all look super easy – sadly, we have to break it to you that the blocs they were climbing were incredibly difficult. The good news is we really do have routes for all abilities here, so absolutely everyone can give it a go. The easier climbs use ‘jugs’ which are big holds you can wrap your hands around, like the rungs on a ladder.
If you want to literally get a feel for what the Olympians were holding, we do have a comp wall and comp holds so you can go up and see if you can get off the ground on those but trust us, plenty of regular climbers struggle! It does give an appreciation for how good the professionals are though.
There is no session time, you can climb as long as you want but we tend to find an hour to two hours suits most beginners, after that the arms and hands start to get a tiny bit tired.
And after that, the possibilities are endless. In the short term, you can grab a well-deserved drink from our bar and chill out on our deck. In the medium term, you could become a member and start to find like-minded people to climb with (it’s known as a social sport for a reason).
Longer-term? Get the skills in place to climb on the real rock outside around Tunbridge Wells and beyond, hang off cliff faces and maybe if you have kids and get them into it, you could be looking at future Olympians.
Any other questions just ask away, either by email, phone, social media or in person. Climbers are a super friendly bunch and love talking about their favourite subject - climbing!