Over the years I have had a few unusual flirtations with rock climbing, which have included dangling off a massive wall of ice in Peru, scampering up a free climbing wall in Greece and more recently donning a fetching t-shirt and taking part in a rock climbing competition in Mile End.
I wasn’t even aware the Mile End Climbing Wall existed until a friend suggested some rock climbing action as a birthday day out. The facility is situated close by to Mile End tube station on the central line and can be reached by walking from the tube in around five minutes.
The climbing wall centre is open for climbers of all levels and the price are quite reasonable when compared to other climbing organisations I have visited in the past. You can get a day of climbing in for around ten pounds and monthly passes are available which allow you to climb as frequently as your body can take for around thirty pounds. The centre also offers a number of short courses and climbing days aimed at beginners and designed to educate people on how to scale the centres many walls in the most efficient manner.
Although we were a group of highly inexperienced climbers looking to start from scratch the climbing centres staff were happy to let us join in the East vs West competition! The centre is covered in nobly climbing aides and it seems like every wall is set up to scramble on. There are main rooms with higher walls and smaller sections on the main area with lower walls and sections. The main room is full of over hangs and inclining walls that are pretty daunting when you first walk in.
The centre also has a few practice walls and a monkey room designed for practicing repelling leap from on point of a wall to another (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this!). As there was a competition on the level of expertise shown by other climbers was quite ridiculous and there was a fair few Adonis style brutes flying up walls like Spiderman.
One of the main let downs of the center is the changing facilities which are a little grubby and resemble a run-down gym or fitness center. Also there isn’t a great of space to socialize when climbing or to take a rest after grappling around for a decent amount of time. Basically if you want to take a break mid climbing session then you are forced to retreat outside in the cold and park yourself on the allocated benches.
Obviously rock climbing is quite a difficult sport so don’t expect to pick it up straight off the bat, the entry level is pretty high and there are a number of fears which you have to overcome to get any good. Such as immense muscle ache for a few days after climbing, looking a bit stupid which you strike some rather odd poses, a fear of heights as you quickly get high up on the walls without considering how to get down!