Climbing, the sport where individuals who seem to have lost the plot somewhat attempt to scale large rock faces with only a rope to save them. It seems crazy, right? Well, this heart-stopping sport is rapidly becoming one of the fastest-growing pastimes worldwide. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind when you think about rock climbing is the large outdoor rock faces found in places such as Yosemite National Park or the Lake District. However, as the sport has seen a rapid increase in popularity, we have seen the introduction of a new form of rock climbing, indoor gyms. So, what are these spaces and why are they so good for climbing? Find out in this quick blog.
Before the 1990s, rock climbing was a sport for purists. Anything other than climbing outside on real rock would have seemed far-fetched and a completely different discipline altogether. However, as the sport saw its first increase in popularity training became far more important. It may be somewhat of a surprise, but until the 90s, training for climbing was simply non-existent. It was firmly believed by the sport’s elite that the only thing you could do to prepare for a hard climb was to climb more outside. However, thanks to two young British climbers in the 90s, everything changed.
Born on the 18th of March 1963, Jerry Moffatt is one of the most iconic rock climbers of all time. In the 1980s and 1990s, he transformed the sport and moved the world of climbing forward exponentially. Moffatt was unquestionably one of the best climbers of his generation and many argue that during the mid-1980s he was the best climber in the world. His achievements only back this claim up as Moffatt was the first climber to ever climb a sport route of 8B+ and most likely 8c+. He was also a world-renowned boulderer and climbed the first examples of V12 and V13 boulders. As for traditional climbing (Trad), Moffat is credited with the first ascent of the Master’s Wall in Snowdonia National Park. This E7 6B route is one of the most intimidating routes in the world, with minimal protection and severe consequences.
Moffatts’ influence on the climbing world really cannot be underestimated. He pioneered training for climbers and without his radical new techniques, the sport would never have progressed to the extent that it did. One of his most significant developments was the indoor climbing gym. Moffatt opened the first example of an indoor climbing centre in 1991. The centre was built in Sheffield and named The Foundry.
Much like his famous climbing partner Jerry Moffatt, Ben Moon is one of the most famous climbers of the late 1980s and early 90s. He too is famed for transforming the world of climbing and establishing some of the most common and widely used training techniques in the sport today. In fact, the pair often cite their groundbreaking training as the main catalyst for their meteoric rise to the top of the sport. Born in 1966, Moon was the main climbing partner of Jerry Moffatt throughout the 1980s and 90s and became famous for climbing some of the world’s most challenging routes. In fact, Moon was the first climber to free an 8C+ route when he climbed Hubble in 1990.
Aside from Moon’s long list of incredible outdoor climbing achievements, he is also credited for transforming the training game with a variety of indoor climbing advancements. Along with his partner Moffatt, he is known for pioneering training equipment such as the hang board. Moon also created his own unique indoor climbing wall, named the Moon Board, which transformed the indoor climbing sphere.
The Real Thing
So, what made this pair of climbers so popular and why did the climbing community flock to their newly formed indoor climbing centres? The answer is, of course, The Real Thing. Climbing movies have, for some time, been the main source of sponsorship and promotion in the industry. The Real Thing was the first-ever feature-length bouldering film and starred both Moffatt and Moon as they tackled the hardest boulder problems in the world at the time. After the film’s release, bouldering and climbing in general exploded and where did everyone go to get a taste of this sport? The pair’s indoor climbing centres, of course. So, why choose an indoor gym to cut your teeth on? Keep reading to find out.
The benefits of indoor climbing gyms
Ever since Moffatt’s first indoor gym opened in 1991, centres have started popping up all across the world. In fact, indoor climbing is now the most popular form of the sport, which would have seemed impossible thirty years ago. You can now find a gym in almost every city in the UK and more and more seems to pop up each day. Nowadays we are seeing climbing competitions all across the globe which happen solely in the gym and these only continue to progress the sport further. So, let’s dive into it. What are the benefits of indoor climbing gyms?
Climbing is, quite naturally, one of the most weather-dependent sports around. If the rock is just a touch wet, then climbing at an elite level becomes pretty much impossible. Of course, practice makes perfect and to become a proficient climber of any discipline you will need to climb as much as possible. With indoor climbing gyms you will be able to practise your skills whatever the weather and ensure that you have what it takes to tackle those real rock faces when the weather is right. So, find your local climbing gym and get started with your new and exciting hobby!
There is no doubt that climbing is one of the most dangerous popular sports in the world. If your gear malfunctions or something breaks, then the consequences really are life-threatening. Naturally, this is all part of the thrill, but you still need to be completely safe when you climb. Learning the ropes of this dangerous sport outdoors is a higher risk and higher consequence, which is why many climbers choose to start their journey indoors. Here, you will have far more experienced eyes on you and have the opportunity to talk to a myriad of experts. So, indoor climbing is a fantastic way to ensure your safety.
Outdoor climbing is, of course, dependent on one very important factor. The presence of good quality local rock faces. Some areas of the UK are blessed with incredible outdoor climbing and some of the best natural rock found anywhere in the world. Snowdonia National Park and The Lake District are just two examples of our country’s fantastic outdoor climbing regions. However, there are many areas in the UK which are simply not blessed with quality outdoor rock climbing. So, to climb a real rock face, you would have to drive hundreds of miles, which would take the best part of a day. With indoor gyms, these opportunities are right at your doorstep and you will save a fortune.
The sport of climbing is all about pushing your boundaries and becoming the best climber you can be. Unlike many other popular sports, you will rarely be competing against other climbers. Instead, you will be competing against yourself, constantly trying to improve your personal best. With indoor climbing gyms, it is much easier to track your progress as all of the routes will be colour coded to specific grades and the grades will be very easy to understand. This will mean that you can continue to see your progression as you become a more capable climber. So, check out your local climbing gyms today!
There is no question that climbing gear and equipment are incredibly expensive. There is no wonder why, really, considering the safety requirements that the ropes, carabiners, and harnesses must adhere to. However, these costs can at times hinder your ability to climb, as we don’t all have lucrative climbing sponsorships! With indoor climbing, all of the items which you will need to climb safely will be provided by the gym so you don’t have to spend any of your own money on pricey equipment. This will mean that you can get down to climbers as soon as possible, which is, of course, the most enjoyable part!
If you need any advice on your next climbing adventure or need somewhere to go to practise your skills, then make sure you contact us today!