My friend Simon has been encouraging our Tough Mudder team to join him in climbing and bouldering in preparation of the Mudder event in April. Our team are mostly skaters so we tend to neglect our arm muscles. Having found excuses every week I decided to just get involved today.
Previous Climbing Experience.
I've done the odd climb on school outings. My last climb was at Thorpe Park, the wall cost £4 to climb and was over in 30 seconds.
The Westway Sports Centre.
Located in West London, it is just a short walk from Latimer Road station. As you walk towards the entrance you could see numerous football and basketball pitches making use of the shelter under the Westway flyover.
Simon took me in as a guest but I was still required to become a member which involved filling a form plus a £5 fee for the year. I also needed to hire some climbing shoes and a harness which came to another £5. Lockers were available, you need a £1 coin but you get it back.
Simon showed me the ‘ropes.’ It took me a while to remember the exact knots to perform but I seemed to have got it by the end. On my first climb I had one of those heart-in-your-mouth moments when I fell off. (Yes the knots worked). Nice to feel alive.
Westway has a lot of climbing walls with a mixture of wall structures, some flat, some more rugged, some with overhangs and one massive concrete structure outside. All walls have different routes to take which were marked by the different coloured climbing holds. They change the holds on the walls every month so it keeps your brain engaged if you come regularly. I took the easier routes but still had to ‘cheat,’ a few times and use whatever was available when there seemed to be physically no other way to go!
This is a form of climbing which you do without ropes or harnesses. Again different coloured routes offered multiple challenges on the same wall. I found myself in some strange Twister like pose when I got stuck. We stood back and watched the more experience climbers do the same route and it was amazing to see the grace they perform through their movements. You could almost imagine they were flowing along the wall to a tranquil music beat.
Simon and I found an angled wall which the holds were organised in a circular fashion. Apparently we were supposed to do circuit loops of this. We struggled to get even half way around. It was still fun giving it a go. The correct technique is to let your legs do most of the work and hang from your arms stretched out, as relying on arms muscles alone will tire you out a lot quicker. A few times I had to just pull up with the arms as there seemed again to be no other way to progress and yes it wasn’t something I could do too frequently!
Simon was brilliant with his patience passing on his knowledge. The facilities at Westway were really good and there are a lot more on offer besides climbing. We were there for two hours and my last climb had truly exhausted me. The next morning I had slight pins and needles feelings in hands but it was less achy on the arms than I thought I'd be. I’ll be back again soon but with all the other interests it’s going to be hard to find time to do everything…
"Any tips, reviews and advice are my own opinions and are not to be taken as professional view points. The information on this site is what has worked for me and is here for guidance only, but I hope you gain insight into the various activities I partake in." Jonathan Chen