/ Ratho: The best indoor wall in the UK, Period.

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McBirdy - on 23 Aug 2012

Interesting news about another little climbing wall being built near Sheffield.

The juxtaposition of 'huge' alongside '16m roof height' brought into sharp focus how lucky I am to live within striking distance of EICA: Ratho.

For those that don't know about Ratho, it's built inside an old quarry. A (genuinely) huge expanse of artifical climbing wall rises to a (genuinely) huge height. Some routes are around 30m long, many are 25m. Few are as short as 16m, although there are half-height lower-offs on many routes for visiting Sheffield climbers who do not have the required stamina and/or do not have long enough ropes.

The arena speaks for itself. Have a look at some photos:

http://www.eica-ratho.com/userfiles/image/Gallery/buildingfromarena.jpg

http://www.eica-ratho.com/userfiles/image/Gallery/the-tower.jpg

http://www.eica-ratho.com/userfiles/image/Gallery/mwallcwallbould.jpg

Ratho also has a new 30m articulated competition wall (not shown in these photos).

Having said all of the above, given that all of the ROUTES around Sheffield are about 8m long, I suppose it is fair to say that this will be an ideal training venue...

B
McBirdy - on 23 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:

I meant to add - from what I've seen on my visits, the quality of the cafe, vending machines and smoking areas are higher up (pun partly intended) on the priority list of many Sheffield climbers than the climbing walls themselves.

For what it's worth, Ratho has a quality cafe, vending machine area (including ice-creams) and a nice wee Zen garden, for the mindful smoker...

Oh, and a full-sized outdoor shop, spa, gym, aerial assault course, kids
play area etc.

I'm not sure I understand why people go to the expense of flying to Spain for sport-climbing holidays when they could just come to Ratho!
Ramblin dave - on 23 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy: In any normal year I'd make a sarky remark about how it's a good thing you lot have got a decent indoor venue given that it rains on 364 days of the year up there, but that doesn't really work this summer...
tom_in_edinburgh - on 23 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:

You could put that wee shed in the middle of Ratho arena to give people somewhere to hang their coats before they start climbing.


McBirdy - on 23 Aug 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

That is a fine idea.
MJ - on 23 Aug 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

You could put that wee shed in the middle of Ratho arena to give people somewhere to hang their coats before they start climbing.

Down South, we are a bit more civilsed and have toilets. We also tend not to hang our coats over the urinals.
JD84 - on 23 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy: From the awesome walls (Sheffield) Facebook... "Floor to top is 16.5m, route length is 24.5m and overhang is 15m! Please remember, this is not the final design!"
almost sane - on 23 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:

Ratho. The only climbing wall in the country that is consistently 5 degrees colder inside than it is outside. And in winter that means COLD.
bouldery bits - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to almost sane:
> (In reply to McBendy)
>
> Ratho. The only climbing wall in the country that is consistently 5 degrees colder inside than it is outside. And in winter that means COLD.

Try Calshot.
stonemaster - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:
> (In reply to McBendy)

>
> I'm not sure I understand why people go to the expense of flying to Spain for sport-climbing holidays when they could just come to Ratho!

1.The girls are gorgeous
2.The food is great
3.The cost may be equivalent, or even less
4.The rock is great

that's just for starters....:)
Fraser on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:

> I'm not sure I understand why people go to the expense of flying to Spain for sport-climbing holidays when they could just come to Ratho!

Much as I love climbing at Ratho, I know where I'd rather be, given that choice!

silhouette - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:
> I'm not sure I understand why people go to the expense of flying to Spain for sport-climbing holidays when they could just come to Ratho!

That comment can only be described as certifiably insane.
Sam Dewhurst - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy: Ratho is a great centre, however since the loss of the original bouldering wall (under the balcony), the bouldering there has become frankly atrocious. It is a big failing point of the centre, especially one where there is more than enough space to easily rectify the situation.
Lord_ash2000 - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy: Do you work at ratho or something? It's a great centre no doubt about it but you seem feel the need make sure everyone knows this.

I climb at Kendal Wall quite a bit (a mear 24.5m high) it's a good wall but I don't need to force that fact on everyone.
In reply to McBendy: Ratho:

A great climbing wall.

In a big freezing room.

Very expensive cafe with insufficient seating space at popular times.

Loads and lods of unused business space that could be better used to help its perpetual financial crisis.
prog99 on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:
Did they forget to put a quid in the electricity meter the other night? It was getting pretty tricky to see anything around 9ish.

Good trad in the quarry and its always pretty quiet.
tom_greenwich - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:

The bouldering is rubbish, and unless you have a car it's virtually impossible to get too.
Paul Twomey - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:

The best thing about it is that it's only 40 miles to TCA Glasgow ;o)
Fraser on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
>
> I climb at Kendal Wall quite a bit (a mear 24.5m high) it's a good wall but I don't need to force that fact on everyone.

I visited Kendal wall last winter for the first time, just for a change from Ratho and quite enjoyed it. But to compare the two isn't very realistic or fair. Hardly any of Kendal is 24m high, whereas most of Ratho is. I did however think they'd made the most of the space they had available.

don macb on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:

just one question... where does menstruation come into the story?

anyway- i agree it is a brilliant venue and frankly find the low temperatures a pleasant change. i sweat buckets at indoor walls.

(i haven't tried the bouldering mind you... it is after all the big routes that make it worth the drive and price tag)
ads.ukclimbing.com
goldmember - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy: can the angles of the walls be adjusted on the tower?
winhill - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:

> Some routes are around 30m long,

So the signs saying you need a 60 metre rope will leave you a bit short?
beychae - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:

For an alternative perspective on Ratho:

- The routesetting is boring; routes are made harder by being steeper and having smaller holds, rather than requiring imaginative moves. There are very few interesting features and angled panels to give the routes some variety.

- You need a head torch when it's dark outside.

- The routes are not re-set nearly often enough (one section has had the same routes since December).

- You need to wear full outdoor clothing.

- You can get rained on and bitten by midges *inside* the arena.

- The wall staff aren't very friendly (well OK, they probably are, but there are seperate staff on reception and the cafe so I've never interacted with the staff).
Fraser on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to beychae:
> (In reply to McBendy)
>
> For an alternative perspective on Ratho:
>
> - The routesetting is boring; routes are made harder by being steeper and having smaller holds, rather than requiring imaginative moves. There are very few interesting features and angled panels to give the routes some variety.

I'd have to disagree with that first one, in general I find the route-setting there exceptionally good. For indoors routes, I've not climbed anywhere better.

I'd agree with you about the lighting however....and the midges....and the temperature! (from Dec. - Feb. at least)
Fraser on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to goldmember:
> (In reply to McBendy) can the angles of the walls be adjusted on the tower?

No, just the new comp. wall.

Robert Durran - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to beychae:
> (In reply to McBendy)
>
> For an alternative perspective on Ratho:
>
> - The routesetting is boring; routes are made harder by being steeper and having smaller holds, rather than requiring imaginative moves. There are very few interesting features and angled panels to give the routes some variety.

Completely disagree. Route setting generally excellent, often outstanding, some routes genuine masterpieces. "Interesting" fixed features tend to restrict imaginative route setting anyway.
>
> - You need a head torch when it's dark outside.

Not true, though lighting could be improved.
>
> - The routes are not re-set nearly often enough (one section has had the same routes since December).

You win some and lose some - sometimes your long term project gets removed just when you are getting close. A route you are bored of might be someone else's perfect endurance plod for rep training.
>
> - You need to wear full outdoor clothing.

No, you wear whatever the temperature most sensibly dictates.
>
> - You can get rained on and bitten by midges *inside* the arena.

Yes, occasionally true!
>
> - The wall staff aren't very friendly (well OK, they probably are)

They are.

As for the bouldering, it may not be up to the standard of the new dedicated bouldering centres, but it's not bad; the freestanding featured boulders are excellent. It is true that the replacement of the original "wave" wall with the bouldering room was a backward step.
Mark Bull - on 24 Aug 2012

> Completely disagree. Route setting generally excellent, often outstanding, some routes genuine masterpieces.

I think depends on the grade a bit. The easier routes can be a bit dull because it's hard to set a 5+ on a 20m overhanging wall which isn't a jug ladder. The route setting at the lower end is better than it used to be, though: there have been some really good ones on the slab lately.

> the freestanding featured boulders are excellent.

...but getting a bit worn and polished now.

Ratho is clearly an excellent training facility for those operating in the F7s. For mere mortals, however, it could have been designed a lot better.

Davy Virdee - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to Mark Bull:
>
> ...but getting a bit worn and polished now.
>
Eh?

They certeainly weren't last night when I was teaching on them!

Robert Durran - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to Mark Bull:
> I think depends on the grade a bit. The easier routes can be a bit dull because it's hard to set a 5+ on a 20m overhanging wall which isn't a jug ladder.

This is probably true, but it seems daft to complain about the inevitable consequence of having a huge steep wall. What do you want? A smaller wall like everyone else in the country has to make do with? Try climbing half of a 6a or 6b if you want a more technical 5+.
Mark Bull - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

> but it seems daft to complain about the inevitable consequence of having a huge steep wall. What do you want? A smaller wall like everyone else in the country has to make do with?

It's not daft! Size is not the problem: the angle and lack of large-scale features is. The vast majority of real rock up to say E1 is not even vertical, so super steep stuff just isn't really useful training for the majority of climbers.

It could really do with some more slabby/vertical leading terrain with corners/aretes/cracks/ramps etc. There are often queues for the 3 slabby lines while the steeper ones are almost deserted.

Mark Bull - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to Davy Virdee:

Ah, maybe they've been recoated then, or else my memory is failing me....
John_Hat - on 24 Aug 2012
In reply to McBendy:

It rather depends whether you define "good" by length or by interesting moves. The first time I was at Ratho it had excellent route setting, the last time it had all gone a bit wrong, and descended into the worst of "lets make it harder by making it require more muscles and massive dynamic moves" rather than "lets make it harder by requirng some thought".

As to your comment about Ratho being better than Spain... erm.. No.


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