/ Argggghh! Bear Rock (warwick) climbing centre!
Right across the spectrum of grades, from 4 to 8a+, are the routes lacking a curtain Ďzingí and addictive quality that other indoor walls manage to create?
These are my thoughts, my local wall; am I alone with my frustration for the place?
I think from 6b up some of the routes are excellent, especially the corners.
Maybe the rain has meant less out door climbing so the climbing indoors makes you feel grumpy.
go and climb a few classic vs's in the rain. soon those indoor routes will look great
I am a regular at Bear Rock but only climb up to 6c max. I would say that the route setting is a little better now than it was a year or two ago but I agree there is possibly a bit too much jug pulling on the easy stuff. The problem is, on a steep indoor wall, how do you make routes easy; by and large you use larger holds..
They do have some good technical slabs it you look around though some, not all, are for TR'ing. The featured slabs (with overlaps) down the end have quite a good feel to them - nicely featured for foot placements and small trickier holds for hands on the whole - and some of those are leading panels. I always enjoy those routes and they often have some quite interesting routes from 5+ to 6c.
The best wall sections I find are the nicely featured ones (for practising footwork) on the long vertical/slightly overhanging wall on the RHS as you walk in and the slabs I was mentioning at the end. Having said that, historically they do set some quite technical 'test pieces' on the slabby to vertical TR walls on the LHS as you walk in.
The biggest issue I have with the route setting is the grading. There is a real polarity with one route setter in particular using quite stiff grades (everything is 6a or below, even some very clearly quite hard stuff) with others maybe being a bit on the soft side. I really wouldn't mind if they were soft or stiff if there were some element of consistency.
I like it though.
ps: I believe the wall manager deliberately (rightly) wants to appeal to the masses which means plenty of routes in the easy/mid grades rather than focussing on (say) high 6's, 7's and 8's. I think this doesn't go down well with everyone but, to be fair, 90%+ of the wall users only climb in the punter grades (up to say 6b'ish). To counter that, the comp wall (roof) does of course have plenty of harder routes and one of the more talented locals did set a panel of hard (7a'ish) tech routes on the RHS lead wall (would be about panel 17 or thereabouts).
pps: when I started climbing there about 7 years ago I do think the route setting was a bit more imaginative and varied. However, they've put in the new wall down the end and I do think route setting quality has increased a fair bit lately. A few years ago they did get people like Steve Mc to set routes but I don't actually think that went down too well amongst the punters, interestingly.
The problems experienced of the last few years are because the manager - the main route-setter at the time - left. He climbed in the 8's and when he left so did contact with Steve Mc and the like. Since then route-setting has been done by two of the main employees. One of the two almost definitely had to learn on the job. However, I'd say that now he does a pretty good job generally. As for the other, he is a traditional climber and so are the routes he sets - hard and brutish!!
If you're talking about the comp wall, then I agree. It is a jug fest with ever increasing reaches. As a short person, I find I can't really do above 6A+ even though I can touch 6C on the other walls. I think it's pretty good though. There's a few sloper routes and lots of crimps.
And by the comp wall I mean the massively overhanging wall. The rest of the walls, especially the one opposite, tend to be crimpy.
Alas I can't comment, despite living 2 mins from this wall and trying to get down there twice a week, I have no friends and there for end up confined to the dark/cramped space that is the bouldering room. (I should however note that the boulder problems are, in my opinion, excellently varied in both style and difficulty).
I agree wholeheartedly, the routes are nowhere near as good as a few years ago, generally very soft for the grade and tend to be left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand and so on all the way. The reason is simple, experienced/professional route setters are no longer engaged. There are far too many unimaginative hand over hand jug hauls on the comp wall where the idea of making a route more difficult is to set bigger longer moves. I also think that some of the setters have no regard for their height compared to others which make many routes excessively reachy.
Sadly there is nothing much there now for the serious climber to train on.
I think that's quite unfair. There may be nothing much for the serious (by which I assume you mean 'expert') sports climber operating high 7's and 8's to train on, but there is plenty below that which, let's face it, accounts for the overwhelming majority (90%+) of climbers. If it were a bigger wall, I suppose it would be a lot easier to cater for everyone but they are restricted in space so try to cater for the majority.
I can appreciate that it's a shame if the comp wall (main roof) route setting isn't good but it's not really my thing to be honest so it doesn't overly bother me.
I understand there are plans afoot to expand the wall in some way so perhaps things will improve in the not too distant.
> I think that's quite unfair. There may be nothing much for the serious (by which I assume you mean 'expert') sports climber operating high 7's and 8's to train on, but there is plenty below that which, let's face it, accounts for the overwhelming majority (90%+) of climbers. If it were a bigger wall, I suppose it would be a lot easier to cater for everyone but they are restricted in space so try to cater for the majority.
Au contraire, I was referring to upper 6s and low 7s of which there is very little of quality now, if any, as opposed to when the previous manager was in post
> I understand there are plans afoot to expand the wall in some way so perhaps things will improve in the not too distant.
I'd say there's quite a lot in the high 6's actually (I'd say most routes on the non-comp walls fall in the 6a to 6c band). Those are the grades I climb at. You are probably right about 7a and up.
It certainly makes sense that the route grades are targeted at the majority of climbers but Iíve seen too many people who are capable of climbing high grades, leave bear rock to climb elsewhere, inevitably the statistics have changed. There are 40 panels each with say 3.5 routes; Iím guessing there are about 150 routes in the main hall. Is it a problem to put aside 10 lines for grades 7b+ to 8a+ for the other 10% who are not in the majority? That 10% of people you mention will then have 7% of the hall to train on, sounds more than fair to me. For some, there are no routes to repoint. Itís a bit like not having enough weights in the gym for the big guys to lift, the difference being, that will never happen in the gymÖ. You also mentioned there are plenty of harder routes on the comp wall, sorry, but there are not.
I agree there is nothing to train on.
Climb the routes set by Will - I consider them the 'Top 50's' here.
They seem to have this obsession with putting 6as up the steepest section of the comp wall- which does nothing but allow strong lower grade climbers haul themselves up. As someone who climbs above this level- it's actually harder to try and climb them with decent steep wall technique, as they are awkward ladders with big holds. They force you to stay square on and just pull.
I think the aim is to allow climbers of more abilities to use more of the wall. I think it would be better using the groove feature on panel 40 to get people up this wall, and set a more interesting route.
I also agree there needs to be more in the 7b area, and harder ones for redpointing too.
Not all the routes are bad- just those which exist only to put easier routes up hard terrain.
In my opinion it does matter if someone who is 5' 6" has to jump for a hold on a 6b+. Ridiculous!
> The problems experienced of the last few years are because the manager - the main route-setter at the time - left. He climbed in the 8's and when he left so did contact with Steve Mc and the like. Since then route-setting has been done by two of the main employees. One of the two almost definitely had to learn on the job. However, I'd say that now he does a pretty good job generally. As for the other, he is a traditional climber and so are the routes he sets - hard and brutish!!
In order to improve as a route setter you need to serve an apprenticeship working under experienced route setters. If the current setters are hoping to just get better through practice then it will take a long time. In order to set good grade sixes indoors you should be climbing grade sevens outdoors. Indoor climbing allows for more technical movement in the lower grades so you should be climbing harder than you set. Low grade routes on rock are generally just a plod so if 6a is your limit you're unlikely to have the movement skills and experience to set interesting routes at that grade indoors.
From my experience of working there I wouldn't get your hopes up about an extension any time in the near future. Hopefully I will be proved wrong but this is something that has been talked about for a long time.
It's a shame the recent 8a was taken down, even though I'm about 900 grades off, it's always cool/inspiring to see somebody attempting something that's totally nails. I had a chat with one of the setters recently, we noticed that there are no climbs above 6C+ on any of the top ropes.
Maybe it's just me but I feel that to push into the 7's it would be really useful to be able to jump on top rope on some 7a's and get a feel for the harder sequences.
On a positive note, the new sets of problems in the boulder room (middle right panel and the panel at the back) are really good.
> From my experience of working there I wouldn't get your hopes up about an extension any time in the near future. Hopefully I will be proved wrong but this is something that has been talked about for a long time.
And when lx says a very long time, he means a very very long time. The extension has been talked about since right back when I was route setting there and I left in 2000!
we two go way back at Bear Rock!
What interests me is whether the usage stats have changed since Mr CL became manager who, incidentally, seems to employ his entire family as well! I am not saying there is anything untoward in this as his family were already employed before he took up post(they were already there weren't they?)but I do think its kind of unhealthy.
I for one used to be a regular Bear Rock user but since the CL regime I have mostly gone to The Pinnacle in Northampton where, on the whole, the routes are much better. I have recently given Bear rock another try and my reaction is as my earlier posts. Another thing I do not like is that the groups are allowed to yell and scream at will which puts a distinct downer on the atmosphere for the serious climber.
Anyway, has the new route setting regime brought in more punters and increased revenue? If so good luck to CL because presumably that is his brief. Sadly the notion that public walls should also cater for serious climbers seems, in most establishments, a thing of the past.
> we two go way back at Bear Rock!
Don't you say hi to lx when you visit the Pinnacle (of which I gather, from his profile, that lx is the manager)?
i'd be interested to know how many of the negative comments on this thread are from people with an axe to grind, for one reason or another?
I wouldn't have though any negativity was due to 'people with an axe to grind', but has been brought about through frustration that their local climbing facility no longer caters for their needs.
I saw the centre go from quality, interesting route setting, by professional route setters - Steve McClure, Ian Vickers, etc. to unimaginative routes set by the local students (with little, to no experience); if a facility is going to charge an entry fee comparable to other walls in the region, I would expect the same level of route setting. I was paying hard earned cash for a facility where I could no longer train.
I don't know if this is still the case, as I haven't been back since voting with my wallet a couple of years ago.
I remember climbing one of his routes (not knowing who had set it) and commenting on how fantastic it was at it really made me think about body position and feet. It felt like it had been set by a climber. Shame he does not still set them there.
I'm not denying there have been changes at Bear Rock, but I find it surprising that two of the recent negative posters on this thread are a) one of the main ex route setters there who now manages the Pinacle, and b) someone who has also switched to the Pinacle and seems to be a mate of the aforementioned.
Look, I don't deny that there is probably some element of truth in all this (the lack of top end routes at Bear Rock) but some of the people making this case are at best being disingenuous. And at worst basically happy to stir up some shit to win business for competing walls.
It's a shame as it is such a good wall and facility. Jug ladders up the comp wall are great for the punters but is there a need for so many, especially when all the routes on the opposite wall are under 6c. It just seems like a bit if a waste so totally get your frustration. The bouldering is still good though :)
> Don't you say hi to lx when you visit the Pinnacle (of which I gather, from his profile, that lx is the manager)?
> i'd be interested to know how many of the negative comments on this thread are from people with an axe to grind, for one reason or another?
I have never seen Ix at the Pinnacle! I am not trying to stir things or gind axes or drum up support for another wall( which is a fair drive for me so I would prefer to go locally to Bear Rock)I am merely expressing disquiet at how Bear Rock has deteriorated, and at the new managerial regime. It used to be by far the best wall in the area but not now by a long way.
It is hearteneing to see others posters on this thread with essentially the same carefully considered views as myself.
And I would still be interested in the current usage stats. If you read my previous post without prejudice you will see that the main point is that walls in general nowadays do not have much interest in catering for serious climbers they just want to rake in the cash from punters
And by the way Pinnacle is by no means immune from setting reachy left hand, right hand jug fests on the comp wall
Don't think anyone has an axe to grind, everyone is coming back with constructive criticism and I wonder how much has been said to the management there. I agree wholeheartedly with what lx says.
If they are unaware- then they'll continue as usual, if they are intentionally ignoring these comments which in my view are very constructive, and would really make for a better wall, then it's a whole different kettle of fish, and I guess they deserve any lack of business as a result. I guess that still remains a loose loose situation for me, as I can't really afford to drive to Northampton 2-3 times a week.
I guess you get what you pay for- £25 per month (including swimming) is good value. Other walls charge £35-£40 last time I checked, but will certainly have better routes. So long as there's one good route setter (we know who he is) working there- who's allowed to set the kind of routes he has been (and a little harder) then I''ll be happy.
I've been a regular for 7-8 years (I live locally too) and I still prefer it to Redpoint and Creation although I do like the latter. Partly of course it's because it's my local wall and partly because, if you're climbing up to around 6c, I genuinely think it's a good wall. Above those grades, I don't know as I don't climb in the 7's and 8's.
To address one point, someone said there are no 7's on the non-comp wall panels - that is not true. Currently (or at least v recently - lay off due to injury means I've not been for a couple of weeks) there is one vertical/steep leading panel with several hard routes in the 7's on it. As you might expect, you don't see many people on it (the main person on it being the guy who set the routes). Whilst that's fine, on a weekday night when the wall is invariably rammed to capacity (which might go some way to answering your question about attendance figures), having one of the leading panels more or less ignored is not helpful. There are some other 7's on the leading/TR panels dotted around. I suspect it would be unrealistic to see anything on this type of panel in the 8's. There is plenty all the way up the 6's and, as I said, some in the 7's.
If I had been recently I would have done a quick count of route grades but I would be very surprised if maybe 50% of the comp wall routes aren't in the 7's. There are, as you would expect, a fair number in the high 6's and a couple in the low 6's. I don't actually get the criticism of the two or so routes around 6a/+ as historically at least one of these is up the scoop feature. The two or so routes in the low 6's don't exactly get in the way and are ok as an intro to steep climbing. I have no idea about the quality of the harder routes on the comp wall.
It seems to me from this thread that some of the better climbers have drifted away, which is a shame indeed. However, it hardly seems fair for someone who left Bear Rock to manage another wall to complain about the route setting or the direction the wall has taken since he left. When I leave an employer and vote with my feet, I don't go back and complain when they're doing something a bit different.
As for group use at Bear Rock, well, if you remember the Rockface, one of my enduring memories of the wall was regularly turning up to find one entire room (the Academy?) blocked off for group use. I found that much more intrusive to my climbing than some children who are normally really well behaved. I don't have kids myself but I still quite like the atmosphere on a saturday morning or whenever there's a group or two in.
I'd also be interested to know how you and the others posting here define "serious" climbers. I know a lot of serious climbers who devote a lot of time and energy to it who don't climb in the 7's and 8's. In fact I would say that is the mainstay of the long-term climbing population. I have no problem with a wall which largely caters for the main climbing population if that is what they want to do.
Perhaps ironically, and to reinforce the point about how busy the wall is, I have recently considered whether I ought to stop my annual membership and climb at other places more often because I am a bit sick of turning up to find almost nothing available to climb or being forced to climb hard too early in a session (no warm up) just to get on something. I know I am not alone in feeling this. So, yes, I would say that the wall is being pretty successful at attracting a lot of punters (many of whom I would still call serious climbers).
Funny how your views are carefully considered and mine aren't. I suspect I go there a lot more than you and I'm not exactly uncritical of the place, except I make my feelings known to the staff there and I don't have a go at Colin and his family on a public forum.
I donít believe any of these comments are being dishonest, and their actions are backed up with their own wallet. I for one, pay peanuts to climb at bear rock with my staff discount. I work in another department at Warwick university and the wall is literally a 3 min walk away from my office. To say the least it is cheap and convenient, the ideal local wall. But no, I travel 70miles in a round trip, of an evening to either Northampton or Birmingham and pay good money to climb good hard routes in an attempt to maintain my fitness ready to push my grade outdoors at the weekends. Iím a fanatical climber and like others truly frustrated at bear rock for letting us down.
Only CL can tell us his vision for bear rock, it could well be profit orientated, I donít know. The university of Warwick is a non-profit organisation and Its core values do not include Mediocrity. The grades continue to decline and Iíve seen far too many strong climbers move on. If either Pinnacle or Redpoint drum up more business from this forum, then good on them, the better walls win. Or even better, bear rock changes for the best.
I didn't say dishonest, I said disingenuous - subtle but important difference.
I agree with your point about the direction the wall has taken perhaps not best suiting a university facility. It *is* very busy now and I imagine makes a handsome profit. Which is probably helpful for the rest of the Uni sports facilities. However, you might have expected it to cater more for those who are or aspire to be elite (might be a better way to say it than 'serious') climbers than the general climbing population. On the other hand, it is a nice way for the University to connect with people like myself in the surrounding community and who might not otherwise use the University facilities.
ps: have you asked him, other than complaining on a public forum?
Not sure if that decision has been made yet, but that's what we were told.
It is valid to complain that you don't like the style of routes set or the general grade profile but routes are at least reset quite frequently. They could probably do with more outside input and do less in-house.
Yes, Iíve expressed my views to him on several occasions, face to face. Iíve sent him a personal email disclosing my frustration. Iíve completed an online questionnaire regarding the services at the university sports department (this includes bear rock). My peers have also done the same. The aim of this forum feed is to see if Iím alone, outside of my friendship group, it appears not.
I know people who prefer each one of Bear Rock, Redpoint or Creation. Every wall has pros and cons on a variety of issues such as the style of route setting, grade spectrum, size, frequency of new routes, quality of bouldering, heating, cleanliness, business at peak times, friendliness of staff or whatever.
I believe that the management of Bear Rock, and of the Sports Centre as a whole are well aware of the frustration that many of their customers have; I know of at least a dozen people, including myself who have spoken to and / or emailed the management, but this appears to have fallen on deaf (or uninterested) ears.
I know that when I spoke to them, I was told that the harder routes wouldn't be replaced as not enough people climbed on them - basically telling me that I was no longer a valued customer. So I, like many others, cancelled my annual membership and have gone elsewhere.
I think that's fair comment on it's own but I do find it a bit objectionable how most of the negative posts are by people, like you, wiith new (almost no posting history) virtually anonymous profiles (no names, profile pics etc).
But to resoond to your post and to add some balance, as it happens, I do prefer it with a greater proportion of routes in the 6's and that was one reason I signed up for annual membership. It's not perfect but it probably caters better for your average climber than many walls.
I don't have an axe to grind and I'm not complaining as such, partly just trying to put a few facts right, things like the comment about me taking the route setters with me when I left as addressed in my first post. It i shard to bite my tongue when I see assumptiopns being made that are very far from the truth. I'm also just supporting a friend, casual keslar, (who up untill recently goes there much more regularly than you). It is frustrating that a wall with the potential to be really good and right on my doorstepo has nothing to really to offer me. It is cheaper for me to go to bear rock and pay full price than is it to pay the petrol to go to any other commercial wall in the midlands, let alone the entry fee. I'm not all that bothered though as I have an even better training facility in my garage.
You ask if people have spoken to Colin directly. Rich, as he states, has. I know several other people who have wanted to but have been too scared. I know of some people who have written to Terry instead, (Colins boss), and have asked that their comments remain annonimous. I know of one person who has been reading this thread with great interest but is scared to post a reply.
Ultimately the pinnacle and redpoint have done well out of the stronger climbers going their way instead so thats good for me and my boss Simon and good for Phil and Mirf at redpoint, who are good mates so I am happy for them as well. The fact is that I work quite closely with the managers and chief instructors at Redpoint, Big Rock, Wolf Mountain and the Tower, to name but a few. We are all wall maangers working together to try and improve the industry. I went over to the new wall in Dudley, (which is excellent by the way), a few weeks ago to show my support to Jonny and the guys. He was saying how nice it had been to have a really friendly email wishing them luck from Julian at wolf mountain, (who was also there on the launch day). I'm not trying to stir up trouble or drum up business for the pinnacle. The only wall in the midlands that doesn't want to work with anyone and see's us all as the competition is Bear Rock, their loss.
Sport at warwick is very heavily subsidised. Unless things have changed dramatically the sports centre doesn't make money, that is why it is so cheap. Its great that the wall is busy. From a financial point of view though, if you loose money on every school group using the wall, it would make more sense to have less not more. The sports facilities at Warwick are trying to tread the delicate line between providing cheap but excellent sports faclilities for staff and students, and running aspects of a commercial business to help subsidise that provision. Unfortunately, the opinion of several of the student climbing club members is that they are not being given the consideration that they used to be.
> Hi Jon,
> I have never seen Ix at the Pinnacle!
Don't tell my boss, as I have been managing the wall since it opened he is under the impression I have been there several times a week for the last two years, if he finds out I may get fired!
Are you confusing me with someone else? Whats your name? (I'm Alex)
Great to see you down the Pinnacle recently Rich, hope you enjoyed the routes.
Everyone else come over as well, its awesome! Great routes, great bouldering, great cake, great hot chocolate with marsh-mellows, entertaining interesting and really good looking wall manager, we have a dog and we sell beer! - now i'm trying to drum up business!
Thanks for taking the time to respond in detail. Of course, you and others are effectively responding just to me; and I am just someone trying to give another view and hopefully a balanced view. So I do find it sad that all this is being said effectively behind Colin's back. It seems a bit of a one sided debate.
Ultimately, I think you just have to accept that currently the wall is not (from what you say) catering very well for the top 5% or less of climbers (I would guess). I don't see how that should make it such a target for attack. As we all know, you can go to Redpoint or Creation which are a fairly short drive away. Or your own wall (never mind your own facility at home).
As for the commercial niceties, I would hazard a guess that Bear Rock makes more money per sq ft than the other walls in the vicinity. You see, I don't see that as a weakness if it is doing it by not over-charging but just by appealing to a broad church of climbers, I would guess that, in effect, the wall subsidises other parts of the Uni sports centre. I'm not sure from your post if you see that as a problem or not but, actually, as a paying punter, I see that as largely irrelevant.
Anyway, thanks again from my point of view for an explanatory post.
Given the one sided nature of this thread, I think your 'jokey' last post advertising your wall wall was spectacularly misjudged.
I don't see how this is behind Colins back. UKC is massive, its the biggest climbing website in the UK by far. Colin should be checking the forums from time to time to see what is going on and to judge peoples opinion on various issues, its what the rest of us wall managers do. I would be suprised if he is not aware of this thread by now, and there is nothing stopping him from replying. I have not posted anonimously, he knows who I am and he is perfectly able to contact me by email though this site, or to post a reply. Exactly the same goes for Rich who started the thread.
I would suggest that your assumptions about the profit figures compared to other walls are grossly out. I can't really take this argument much further as to start quoting financial figures of a previous employer on a public internet forum would be massively inappropriate, but when you are trying to guess how much moeny the Bear Rock makes don't make the mistake of just looking at the climbing room and the bouldering room. The bear rock is completely dependant on the reception staff, the changing rooms, the finance department, the HR department, the IT department, the cleaning department, the technicians and the seniour management in the sports centre. Commercial walls will have to cover all of this. They will also have to either pay rent or a mortgage and they cannot afford to loose money. They will have to make more money per square meter of climbing or they simply would not exist.
I think it is presumptuous of you to assume that Colin would read or post on UKC. I know plenty of very keen climbers who don't and you are, in effect, talking behind his back. Well done all of you.
As for the financials, yes, you are of course correct that the climbing centre will effectively have to share costs with the other facilities in the sports centre. I was really referring to its own profit (more akin to turnover I accept) than an artificial profit after a recharge. The point I was making that due to the relatively high turnover from the wall it is taking some of the burden of the centre away from the other facilities in the sports centre., Hence subsidising them. Do you honestly think the turnover would be as high if the wall focussed on elite climbers? If so, I think you are sadly mistaken.
Reading ukc nothing to do with Colin being a keen climber, it's to do with him taking advantage of an easy way to gauge the opinions of the demographic for which he manages a facility. The threads been going for several days now, ur obviously well aware of it and as far as I am aware mates with Colin. He has is in regular contact with lots of other climbers, I think it's a fair assumption that he has or will very soon here about this thread one way or another. Still don't think it's behind his back, it's a Public forum. Are you suggesting that no one should ever post anything negative on here? I've not insulted Colin or the bear rock. I simply said it doesn't offer me anything to train on. That's not an insult, it's a fact. I'm sure that lots of other people think its great, that's fine.
Regards finances I obviously have a fair bit of inside knowledge as i a managed the wall for a number of years, hence to post anything else on here would be innapropriate so I am bowing out of that debate.
So how are you are aware of that? I know Colin as would any regular at Bear Rock, I am not mates with him. Quite specifcally I have absolutely no idea whether he is reading this thread or not, and I think it quite unfair to assume he is.
There have been a number of quite personal references to Colin and his family which I think go well beyon fair comment. One of them was deleted earlier this evening, if you hadb't noticed. It was close to slanderous.
Yup, and as the ex manager of Bear Rock I think you are far too close to this and have no place posting quite personal opinions on this thread. If this were on one of the main threads on UKC you would probably have been ripped to shreds by now.
I hadn't seen the slanderous post that was deleted, I agree that would be out of order. I think what is left is fine, obviously the moderators do too. I reiterate what I said before, I havent insulted Colin, I have considered what I have said before posting and like others have said, tried to offer constructive criticism.
I am a climber and Warwick is my local wall, I am well within my rights to post on this thread. This is a main thread, a quick look at forums latest shows it has more than twice as many views as most other threads. I wait to be ripped to shreds!
Maybe people are actually quite interested about what someone who works in the industry has to say!
> I think that's fair comment on it's own but I do find it a bit objectionable how most of the negative posts are by people, like you, wiith new (almost no posting history) virtually anonymous profiles (no names, profile pics etc).
We all have a right to remain anonymous, I canít see what difference it makes on this feed. In fact the anonymity of its posters is very Important, I personally find the wall manager difficult and intimidating to communicate my thoughts, regarding bear rock. I have created this feed, my first ever feed, as I am at an end at to what to do. If this feed promotes others to come out of the UKC wood work, then it must feel worthwhile for them to do so. Many others, including myself have already taken more conventional means to communicate our frustration to the BR manager. As already mentioned it appears to have fallen on deaf ears. If you know of any other way to collectively gather the thoughts of climbers, then please let us know.
This feed is not a means of going behind the bear rock managers back, this feed is public and open to every man and his dog. I will be the first to raise my hand as the instigator. The bear rock manager will know exactly who I am through my user name, as Iím sure many others do.
JonC , I think you are bringing some fantastic views to the debate, it offers another great view point. Please donít be offended if weíre quick to reply to your posts. Iíve been told the BR manager is away until next Thursday. Judging by the volume of people reading this feed and the feedback from those on the wall floor, BR staff are aware of these posts.
I wouldnít just stop at saying only the top ď5%Ē of climbers are miss catered for. Iíve been frequenting bear rock for the last 15years, historically its played an important part in hard and competition climbing in the UK. Today, Iím not so sure. And Iím not sure others who want to push their grade are getting the quality of route they need to make great improvements. I donít just mean in the high 7ís and 8ís. It does however cater for people who do not want to climb above 6c.
I donít want to attack or offend the resident route setters, they are all good people, delightful characters and I consider them good friends. I can understand some of the difficulties they face when setting routes at BR. Unfortunately it appears Iím cracking eggs to make an omelette.
Itís obvious that the turnover of the wall will not be as high if it was for only 5% of its climbers. Thatís just absurd. But, 5% on an estimated 150 lines = 8 routes. Iíll be happy if I had 5 good hard routes to play on, and Iím sure others will agree. If the dozen people I know who have left, who were willing to climb those 5 routes, they brought in £300 worth of annual subscription each. For BR, that should make good business sense, lose 5 easy lines with negligible effect on revenue and gain a dozen annual subscriptions in return for 5 hard lines? It makes sense to me.
Maybe Iím biased towards the higher grade climbs but when I was climbing in the 6ís I would always look up and see this mystical 8a collecting dust on the comp wall, thinking does anyone climb such impossible looking lines. Thinking how amazing it would be to actually climb such a route. For me the presence of such an intimating line gave me aspirations as a younger climber. Over the last 2 years I have sent every 8a BR had to offer and I enjoyed every battle. Last week, in one session, I got an amazing 8a+ at pinnacle set by an independent route setter down to one rest. Iíve never been so driven by such an exhilarating line. And Iíll not be stopping at 8a+. For me, aspirations have been the key to reaching this level, and these routes need to remain, encouraging other younger climbers to keep on sticking at it. I can envision more than ď5%Ē of the climbers benefiting from these hard routes, in more ways than one.
Donít think 8aís are super routes, theyíre not. I can climb at this level and yet I still only came 4th in a midlands leading competition. I still get my ass handed to me by these young whippa snappers. I can go to repoint and get burnt off by exceptionally talented guys with absurdly strong fingers. I went on a recent trip to Font as a party of 12 and I was the weakest in the group by far. Climbing F8a is no longer for the minority. With easy availability of training information and booming finger board sales, the level of UK climbing has moved on massively since I first started climbing 18 years ago and it continues to rise. The level of routes offered by other indoor venues are meeting the demand. Bear rock should not be regressing, especial for what the university of Warwick stands for.
I am in agreement that a lot of the routes lack a certain spark. I only climb 6as and 6bs but find it very frustrating that, in climbing this grade, I seem confined to hauling my way up jugs.
I would really like to see more variety in the routes, with more crimps, slopers and pinches on the lower graded routes. It is my opinion that many of the lower graded routes at Bear Rock do not promote the best technique. It is relatively easy to haul up on a jug without employing much technique, whereas this is not the case with many of the more crimpy routes (going at the same grade) at other walls I've climbed at.
Additionally, I am keen to push my grade and am finding that the absence of more challenging routes means that I seem to lack the enthusiasm to do this when climbing at Warwick, something which is not the case at other walls.
I do think it's great to have a lower graded route up the comp wall. For me getting up there was hugely motivating and gave me a real sense of achievement. However, it would be great to see some harder routes up there too, both as something to aim for for myself and because it is fantastic to see more experienced and strong climbers getting up really hard stuff!
Yes, my choice of words was a littlle OTT but I still believe that, as the ex wall manager, you are not in fact best placed to comment on this. There is a reason that, for example, the ex manager of a football club does not comment on the current running of the club or the ex CEO of a company doesn't wade in with comments, and ex PM's don't comment on the running of the country. Clearly this is a rather smaller enterprise but I think the same principle applies. Apart from the courtesy aspect, you will inevitably have a rather baised view (though you may not think it). Anyway, this is a public forum and you are obviously within you rights to post.
That's all fine and I think everyone has made their point. I have no problem with anything you say in fact, I just have a slightly different view on it. I am merely saying that, if the wall has gone in a rather different direction (which I agree it has), that is not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe it is no bad thing to have a good wall which focusses on the easier end of the spectrum, though I completely agree that there should be room for harder routes too at BR. And I do agree that the route setting could be a bit more varied/imaginative.
What I don't quite understand is what seems almost to be an obsession with having your local wall back doing what it was doing before. Things inevitably change when managers of anything change. We are quite lucky in the area now that, since the Rockface went, we now also have two good walls in Brum (Creation and Redpoint) which are less than half an hours drive away and I know plenty of people who go to all three. So, putting to one side some of the peripheral points, does it matter if one of the walls focusses on a slightly different sector of the market and so, if you are a very good climber, you may prefer to go to the other walls? You and others seem to be saying that all walls should cater for all climbers, which is clearly nonsense. It is up to the current management as to which sector they focus on. It's not as thought BR has suddenly started setting nothing above a grade 5 and is going for group use only - that is very far from the truth.
As to BR no longer being in the leading comps, is that such a problem? You might think it is a shame but I rather suspect it took up a lot of resources. I have no idea how the economics of such things work out (cost of route setting vs income) and whether that played any part.
Incidentally, I'm not sure why you are preaching to me/us about 8a/+not being super routes any more. I don't think they are. That seems to be *your* particular benchmark as to when a route is getting quite hard - which funnily seems linked to you current climbing level. However, I do think that I'm probably not far out in terms of the percentages of climbers who are operating at that sort of level. You see a fair number of them as you climb with them, but the vast majority of climbers never get to that level. I have no desire to "stop" in the 6's (which is I think what you were accusing me of having in my mindset and why I would be content with the routes at BR) but, in line with the majority of climbers, I am having problems moving past that. But don't worry, even climbing in the 6's I have plenty of routes to aim at in BR and a number of projects (if I can shake of this injury any time soon). Plus I'm trying to tell myself that a certain Mr Haston hit 9a in his 50's so there's still time for me ;)
> I have no desire to "stop" in the 6's (which is I think what you were accusing me of having in my mindset and why I would be content with the routes at BR) but, in line with the majority of climbers, I am having problems moving past that.
Until recently I was having the same problem in my efforts to bust out of the sixes. However, I have now started to climb less at Warwick and more at other walls and have found this genuinely useful. Personally, I have found that my technique is improving leaps and bounds and my enthusiasm has been greatly lifted.
I'm sorry to hear about your injury, it's so frustrating not being able to climb.
> Yes, my choice of words was a littlle OTT but I still believe that, as the ex wall manager, you are not in fact best placed to comment on this. There is a reason that, for example, the ex manager of a football club does not comment on the current running of the club or the ex CEO of a company doesn't wade in with comments, and ex PM's don't comment on the running of the country. Clearly this is a rather smaller enterprise but I think the same principle applies. Apart from the courtesy aspect, you will inevitably have a rather baised view (though you may not think it). Anyway, this is a public forum and you are obviously within you rights to post.
Is that analogy a joke? Obviously if I was a national celebrity and my comments were likely to make the national and even international press then I would be quite carefull with what I said in public. However, dispite that, ex PM's do comment on the state of the country. Many ex sportsmen and women, including footballers, become commentators and it becomes thier job to comment on the sport and the way it is being played and managed. They are used as commentators as their experience in the field can provide valuable insight.
Look, I first joined this thread because I was mentioned in it. It was suggested that I had done something that I hadn't, (taking the contact with the route setters with me when I left). I don't think that anyone is going to deny that I have a right to comment on that, if anything it is my responsibility to do so, and set the record straight.
My opinions on what I would like to see route wise at warwick are obviously biased towards the grades I climb, just as yours are. Thats got nothing to do with the fact that I used to work there. I am a professional route setter, as of this year I have been route setting for half my life. A large part of my income for over a decade has come from route setting, I am obviously going to be opinionated and passionate about it, as with any professional in their field. As a professional in my field I know the advantages a professional can bring.
I climb with a variety of people, many climb a lot harder grades than me and many climb a lot lower grades than me. My wife has never climbed harder than 6a+ and interestingly the last time I went to Bear Rock with her, (admittedly over a year ago know), her comments were actually pretty similar to those of LauraBeth. In addition to finding the routes boring and very simplistic, she found that they were reachy and quite thuggy, and all very similar. Setting interesting routes in the easier grades is perfectly possible, but it can be tricky, this is one of the advantages of using a good professional setter.
Quite frankly, Redpoint, The Pinnacle and now Boulder Central are by far the best climbing centres locally. It is by no means surprising that these three centres are climbing centres that are run by 'active' climbers.
Obviously this is opinion but surely shared by a majority. The quality is just so high at these walls. I firmly believe this is because the staff and management love climbing and have so much pride in their work.
The truth of the matter is that Bear rock is not big enough to cater for all climbers and punters at all levels. Maybe if CL can raise the revenue to high enough levels the bigwigs at the university will cough up the readies to expand and then the wall can move forward. I believe CL for any faults that he may have, is somebody who is passionate about climbing so give him a break and may be consider that he may have a longer term strategy to to take Bear Rock to better place.
I have been aware of this thread since it began but was not sure how best to air my views.
I am coming to the end of my time at Warwick university, 4 years in total. I witnessed two years of management by Alex, and subsequently 2 years by CL.
It would be unfair of me to comment on the lead wall as I have avoided it for the past year. Though I am aware of the complaints and have had many a discussion with students and members of the public about the route-setting.
As I am primarily a boulderer I will continue with this issue. I am aware that the bouldering wall is only a small part of the Bear Rock wall, but I believe it deserves just as much discussion as the lead wall. I have not climbed at Bear Rock for at least 6 months, due to a total lack of inspiration, so please take my comments with a pinch of salt as I am well aware they may be out of date.
In my opinion, the tragedy of the boulder room is the loss of quality route-setting. Steve MC and Ian Vickers no longer set there (as far as I know), not to mention the loss of Alex. It is such a shame because the room has a good variety of angled walls, so the potential is there. Panel 2 and 3 used to have an excellent standard of ďhardĒ problems from around V3 to V9/10+? Such problems were well set, and required technique, not just brute strength. I find now that many of the problems are either (awkward) one-move wonders or jug runs. I struggle to find any problem that is satisfying from start to end, and an enjoyment to climb.
I am aware that the money Bear Rock gets from the students is a very small percentage of the total intake, however, every penny counts right?
As president of the club last year I saw the number of active student members increase dramatically. Such is the consequence with a climbing wall in the middle of a campus full of fresh, brand spanking new students each October. Each student pays approx. £60 per year for climbing wall membership (but donít quote me on this, it may have increased). In 2010/2011 we had over 300 members. If 100 students pay for yearly membership (though I believe the number is larger), that is £6,000. This is a miniscule amount of money if you are to consider how much Bear Rock may make in turnover each year.
Where is this money going? Why canít Bear Rock use £400 of this money each term to bring in ďprofessionalĒ route-setters to spice up the bouldering wall? Is that really too much to ask? £1,200 each year on good quality route-setting in the bouldering wall, funded entirely by student membership?
Another point I believe worth mentioning, is that Warwick sent two teams to LUBE (London Universities Bouldering Event) this year. We had two girls who placed 1st and 2nd overall, and 3 boys in the top ten. Warwick A team placed first overall, and Warwick B in 5th place. Warwick has a very committed and talented climbing team. Therefore I find it incredibly frustrating that the views of students are, in my opinion, ignored.
A small point on the issue of climbing holds: there are often several routes of very similar colour holds on the same panel. I know this is a small issue and ultimately unimportant, but itís not something you would see at a commercial climbing wall. All it takes is a bit of foresight not to put two routes in two shades of grey right next to each other (!).
But of course it is not only students who use the bouldering wall. Over the last two years, many strong climbers have left to climb elsewhere. In two weeks time, I too will be joining them.
Unfortunately for me, 8a is an obsession. I feel I have offended you, and I sincerely apologise if I have. I hope you can shake off that injury and start cranking again soon.
I canít agree with that, I can assure you that all the staff working close to the wall are active climbers, in particular the managers enthusiasm to Trad and dedication to the sport is incredibly contagious.
I'm bemused by your post! Goodness knows what the managers and staff at some of the other West Midlands climbing walls will make of it.
I wasn't going to post again - do I hear groans? ;)
I do think the thread has been interesting and somewhat enlightening to be honest and I apologise for being a little on the argumentative side. I was simply trying to put a different perspective and stand up for some people who, I felt, were being subjected to a rather personal attack (and I don't buy the argument that it makes it any better because it is openly on a forum - rather the reverse in fact).
Anyway, it is very clear from the number of posters on this thread making the same or similar points that there is an issue which could do with addressing and that there is a significant part of the local climbing population who aren't being catered for unless the people on this thread are unrepresentative (which clearly they are in some respects but I am assuming they're not the grand total of hacked off climbers). As I have said a number of times, I also get irritated by things such as inconsistent grading, at times unimaginative route setting and, yes, once putting 5 red/orange routes right next to each other on adjacent panels. However, I do make these points (perhaps equally irritatingly so) to the manager and staff to their faces. Hopefully in a nice way.
I would still say that all climbing centres will evolve and I don't see the need for all walls to effectively mimic what each other does. That seems to me a rather blinkered approach. There are a lot of walls in the area and it is no bad thing to my mind that they are all a bit different and will undoubtedly appeal to slightly different clientele. But I would still be concerned if it was clear that a significant number of local climbers were not well served by their local wall if it were possible to do something about that within whatever business model there is.
Does no-one else think this discussion is basically an exact re-run of what happened at the RockFace 10 years ago? Started off as a really good wall, became commercialised, no good routes lots of jug haul 6as and 6bs, lots of people transferred to Bear Rock, Rock Face closed/sold out.....how life is circular. Would be a real shame if Bear Rock went the same way, I spent many great days climbing there, mainly thanks to Alex.
My recollection is that the Rockface was still popular in terms of people going until it closed. It certainly didn't close due to dwindling numberss; the owners sold the site for development (as they were entitled to do). My recollection is that what hacked people off most was a series of price increases in the last year or two it was open - and then the sudden manner in which it was closed ie. literally overnight (for which there was no real need despite it being sold for development). It was obvious at the time that something was afoot and rumours were rife (it wasn't hard to work out given it was in the middle of a big redevelopment area) and I am sure less attention was paid to route setting etc in the last year or so. The BR situation is, I think, entirely different.
One was under the ownership of people who were planning to sell it for development. So they got what money they could out of the punters before selling it off.
The other is under University ownership which is not about to sell it and may well put more money into it and further develop the existing facilities.
I really don't see how the two are comparable. I feel bemused if you genuinely think that BR is becoming a 'have a go' centre. ALL walls have some group use by youngsters. I've seen less corporate 'days' at BR than any other wall I've frequented.
I guess you are 'just' another person bemoaning the lack of top end routes and, if so, fine. But i think this comparison you are trying to make is way off the mark.
Itís fantastic these students have such a strong hold on inter-university climbing competitions! I think itís brilliant that those sporting WUCC tops can instil a little bit of fear into your competitors! Well done! It certainly makes me feel proud our local climbing team can crush. Although deeply saddening to hear youíre not being inspired to climb at BR.
There has been a lot of discussion over whether or not and why Bear Rock do not cater for climbers working the harder grades but I would like to reiterate my previous point.
I feel that the lower grades the climbs at Bear Rock are lacking a certain something. There are an abundance of juggy routes and, in my opinion, a lack of routes which promote the application of good technique and which aid the development of route reading. It would be so great to see some more crimpy and technical routes in the lower grades, after all there is a good variety of different panels, from slabby to the comp wall.
Apologies for just basically saying the same thing again, but I feel that the conversation has strayed somewhat from the original post.
I would be very interested to hear the views of other climbers climbing in the lower grades.
Last year I found the routes in the main room to be fairly enjoyable and spent a lot of time working quite a few of the harder ones. That said, I feel it important to mention that my training partner at the time who was around 5'5 and has climbed several routes in the range 8a-8b outside often found himself unable to complete some routes on the competition wall which should have been well within his ability because the crux move tended to be a large move which he couldn't reach. I think this was the main flaw with most of the routes, the fact that difficulty tended to be increased by spreading the holds further apart rather than relying on balance/technique.
I haven't spent a massive amount of time at the wall this year for a number of reasons - I was injured for a couple of months from october, couldn't find a regular partner who wanted to train hard but also wasn't really inspired by any of the routes. There wasn't much I wanted to go back to and complete. Laura Beth mentioned the standard of the lower grade routes slipping and I'm tempted to agree, it seems more and more regularly I'm finding myself dissatisfied with a route (although there are still quite a few very enjoyable ones spread about).
However, I've known since Colin took over management that this would probably happen, he said he had plans to expand and in order to secure the money he had to prove to investors that the wall was capable of making money and as a result would be cutting costs (which explains the absence of professionally set routes) and getting more groups in to maximise income. Personally I think he made the right decision at the time, but I've heard no word of any success in securing investment so if no progress has been made in that respect I think it would probably be best to revert to the old way of doing things.
I would like to see more experienced/qualified route setters employed putting up better routes. When you go climbing outdoors to an area you haven't visited before, do you choose the crag with poorly rated climbs or the one with stacks of 3 star routes? With indoor climbing there is the opportunity to set "3 star" routes, but at Warwick inexperienced setters are being used to save money and the result is mainly 1 or 2 star routes.†
With regard to the harder grade routes, I would like to see more of them. I only climb up to 7a+ so have never run out of routes, although on 1 occasion there were only 2/3 routes that were beyond my grade. Bad news for those climbing any harder than me, of which there are plenty, and inexcusable seeing as it wouldn't take much to set a few hard routes out of the 120 odd available.
Watching better climbers provides inspiration and the opportunity to learn from people with superior technique.†
Personally I think it's a shame that many of the better climbers have left and would like to see them return. BR used to have a reputation for being a top centre but probably not anymore. I would like to see that corrected and would have thought that Warwick Uni would be interested in the reputation of its sporting facilities too, and it's ability to attract climbers of a high standard. †
Recommendation to the management team: Get some better route setters, set a few 8a's, and keep everyone happy (except perhaps the Finance Manager).
I work at Warwick Uni but live near Oxford. About a year and a half ago I went to the bouldering wall after 6 months of not having been. The routes hadn't changed at all but had gathered an extra 6 months worth of chalk and sweat instead. A guy climbing there, who seemed to be a regular, told me that this was because the wall didn't have any qualified route setters anymore. I haven't been back since - instead preferring to use Oxford Brookes' wall (which isn't that great but is still much better than Bear Rock). It's a shame - I used to climb regularly at Bear Rock when I was a student (back in 2000/2) and loved it then.
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