I've done a little research and I think there's likely funding available from the council too via cash earmarked for youth-support programmes. A decent proposal for a wall might be able to get access this.
No doubt a well-run wall in the right place would see loads of business. If I didn't already have a job I'm enjoying I'd be building one myself!
Well run walls with emphasis on 'youth-support programmes' means busy busy groups filled with kids and educational groups in order to keep open and running without large entrance fee's with only a population of 150,000 two walls in Oxford would mean, pricier entries and more groups.
The Rock Solid wall is run ridiculously well - I'm not sure what you expect if you go between 5 and 7 - I go during the day or late and often have the place to myself. While the main bouldering wall does get busy I can't remember the last time someone was injured as a result of a fall onto someone else - everyone is often eager to spot.
To be honest it's pretty pathetic to read your post - you say the money goes 'into a central pot, never to be seen again' and yet there are constantly new holds, volumes etc being purchased.
I mean the small bouldering wall has routes up to V6 and is often much quieter when there isn't a kids club, and the lead tower is often very quiet as well - even when it is busy there is no issue finding routes or places to climb, nor is it unsafe.
If you plan on going in to monopolise a section of the wall, yes, you will struggle, but there is no issue with asking people to move out of the way, or to watch out.
In reply to JSCB:
Yeah, the Cambridge thing is annoying. People keep spotting that it's bang in the middle of a 40 mile radius circle with a large and fairly affluent population and no full sized climbing walls, realising that this means that there's a gap in the market, starting to put together a business plan, and then finding out how expensive land is and realizing that the numbers won't add up.
> (In reply to quiffhanger)
> To be honest it's pretty pathetic to read your post - you say the money goes 'into a central pot, never to be seen again' and yet there are constantly new holds, volumes etc being purchased.
What time was that photo taken? I've seen the wall like that when I've visited the wall mid-morning during the week, but most people who aren't students and thus don't have the flexibility can't make that sort of time. I've seen the place get a lot busier.
That said, that's an awesome photo: how do you take something like that? I spent several minutes just zooming around my screen in fascination...
Also, I think - though I may be wrong - there was an attempt to get funding (possible from the council's youth-support 'pot') to build an outdoor bouldering area in the University Parks, which failed. So this sort of thing has been tried before, to not much success, alack. :/
I'm not really sure a panoramic shot, which I believe was commisioned by rock solid for publicity, is really going to be an accurate representation of how busy the wall gets! I've been climbing at brookes wall for over 10 years now at all times of day, and yes there are times when the wall isn't full to the point of bursting. But while it's easy to say "change your climbing times" the quiet times are quiet for a reason, people have jobs!
> The Rock Solid wall is run ridiculously well - I'm not sure what you expect if you go between 5 and 7 - I go during the day or late and often have the place to myself. While the main bouldering wall does get busy I can't remember the last time someone was injured as a result of a fall onto someone else - everyone is often eager to spot.
Never been that early, but it's also extremely busy on weekdays between 7 and 9pm, so it's not like it's just a narrow time slot you need to avoid. It's usually nice and quiet from about 9:30 until closing.
Regarding injuries: as it happens, someone was stretchered out a week or two ago having hit someone on the way to the ground. Didn't see it happen so perhaps he was just unlucky. But that's not to say there's no problem unless someone gets hurt - it's often busy enough that people are scared to push themselves properly, and that's a shame.
> the lead tower is often very quiet as well - even when it is busy there is no issue finding routes or places to climb, nor is it unsafe.
The lead tower is indeed very quiet at certain times. However when it's busy, it's much worse than you describe. There are times when there are only two or three lines with no climbers on, and they've been only left free because because they're a bit to close to other people climbing wandering lines or in the chimneys. It sometimes gets to the point where the wall staff guard the lead tower and apply a "one in, one out" policy, so I don't think it's correct to say that even when it's busy there's "no issue".
We're all very grateful to have what we've got, and we appreciate that the Brookes staff and management are trying to do their best given the constraints, but I think there is a bit of a problem with overcrowding, and denying that it exists isn't helpful.
It's hard to see what can be done without increasing capacity or turning people away. Trying to shift some of the demand to off-peak times is definitely a good idea, but bear in mind that those of us working full-time often don't have much flexibility in our schedules.
In reply to quiffhanger: presuming you're who I think you are, you might have wanted to check in with your friends in the OUMC committee first. I'm not going into the details on a public forum but a huge amount of work has happened behind the scenes towards the new wall to be included in the Iffley redevelopment. With that in the wings, it seems rather unlikely that anyone else is going to invest in another wall in Oxford.
Regarding outdoor facilities, we've investigated the possibilities of siting boulders in, for example, the University parks or on the Iffley road and - without wanting to reopen that can of worms - it's not going to happen for several very good reasons.
In reply to quiffhanger: I thought that first photo was of one of the local walls near me for a second!
To be fair to that local wall, its not always that insanely over-crowded, but there are 2-3 evenings (til close @10pm) a week where the bouldering room is crammed, the circuits have a que about 10 people long, the lead looks like 20 spiders building one web and the top rope is a huge game of vertical sardines! Obviously these days are hell.
The main problems the setting, one of the route setters seems to think crux = daft reach/dyno, and the bouldering room suffers from over-setting, its not fun when the setters have handily placed 6 huge jugs on a sticking out volume right under a very committing crux move of a F7a. Only took an hour for 5 of us to all have a f**ked right knee due to the other problems jutting into the fall-path, and several of the other new problems from that setting have simliar things to hit on the way down.
I'm guessing it was due to a skilled and rushed forerunner forgetting that not everyone is spiderman and sends everything first attempt.
Oxford can't support two decent walls at once, so for better or worse we're a bit stuck with Brookes. As pointed out, we're definitely better off than Cambridge, Colchester and a number of others, so limited cause for complaint.
What really irks me about the Brookes wall, though, is the value for money. As a student, I pay the same amount (£7) for an entry to the Westway, with its hundreds of lines, rolling resets, huge bouldering area, proper training equipment, etc. as I do for an entry to Brookes - I haven't counted, but maybe 20 (very closely packed) lead lines, half a dozen top ropes and 50 boulder problems, and resets only every six months! I'd be very surprised if the wall wasn't a large money-spinner for Brookes Uni, and if it is, why can't they invest more of that back into the wall?
At the end of the day we're a captive market and Brookes have a right to make as much profit as they can get away with. One does feel a bit hard-done-by though.
In reply to quiffhanger:
Ross, property is too expensive in Oxford and there's nothing suitable available. Point me to a decent available building and I'll build you a wall. In the meantime stuff is being done regarding your facebook thread and plans have been submitted to try to extend into a covered area not disimilar to the secret garden at mile end. But you knew that already and just wanted to stir things up a bit didn't you.
In reply to quiffhanger: Used to like the OB wall but concluded it was approaching dangerous when busy (nearly got knocked off when leading by someone falling on another line). Hence, I use Hemel or MK now. That said, the upside is that we are growing sport but we need facilities to match the growth in popularity.
Really? I think there is massive room for improvement, to mention a couple of things: a security entry system on the door, but the door is left unlocked, also often during a reroute, when the climbing area is severely reduced, the management continue to book in children's parties, beginners courses etc. resulting in serious overcrowding, and the danger of often badly supervised children and novice climbers being fallen on.
I could go on, but this post is off topic so I won't.
I'm sorry, but I just can't agree that 'the Rock Solid wall is run ridiculously well'
Having recently moved from the North to MK (which was painful enough as it is) I have found the wall here ridiculously expensive given size/quality of problems (why oh why do some route setters think crux's can only involve a longer reach - I am short, it's not fair!)
And given there is no outdoor stuff that's viable to drive to of an evening, walls 'more important'.
But then I guess property prices just move expensive down here.
I was thinking of driving over to Oxford to see if that added more variety, I might not now given this thread!
> (In reply to quiffhanger)
> Off topic BUT...
> Having recently moved from the North to MK (which was painful enough as it is) I have found the wall here ridiculously expensive given size/quality of problems (why oh why do some route setters think crux's can only involve a longer reach - I am short, it's not fair!)
I generally find the setting at Milton Keynes pretty good - maybe the routes are better than the bouldering but it's still decent. Are you sure you're not just doing what I do when I visit a new wall of having a slightly different style of route to what you're used to, finding everything a bit difficult and awkward and blaming it on "crap setting"?
> But then I guess property prices just move expensive down here.
I climb regularly at Big Rock and I do find things tend to be set in a particular style which you get used to, and it knocks you down a fair way grade wise when you go elsewhere. Part of the cause of this is the use of coloured holds for grades on the bouldering wall, which limits what you can use. The Beacon, part of the same group, has recently changed this so they mark grades with tags, and it has resulted in a far greater variety. I hope this is seen as successful and followed by Big Rock.
Occasionally you do get guest setters in, and those routes can be quite different - take a look at the names on the panels on the roped walls - Streaky is one of the guests and sets some very interesting stuff!
As for the price, it's about right for the location. Everything's more expensive darn Sarf (I remember being hit by this when I moved from the Liverpool area to MK in 2001). London walls are, as you might expect, even more expensive!
And as for short people - you should enjoy the sit starts in the bouldering room! As a 6' 4" heavyweight (18st) with a very long upper leg, I tend to find they're harder than anything higher up - think of the lever effect! My conclusion on this overall, given that I generally climb with a group of people who are quite a bit shorter and somewhere between half and 2/3 of my weight, is that height is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage overall.
If you get bored of Big Rock, though, there's always Northampton (Pinnacle) which is also a good wall, it's about 20 minutes walk from the station if you don't have a car. The bouldering wall is quite small but well-set, and there is an excellent variety of roped climbing.
In reply to margie:
You shouldn't let other people's opinions put you off visiting other walls and making your own mind up. You might find that you enjoy Rock Solid given one of the setters is only 5"6 and none of them are 6".
Totally agree with the post above, different isn't always bad, it might just take a bit of getting used to so give it some time. Most importantly give the wall specific critical feedback rather than just generalised complaints, it's useless to say everything is "reachy" but to point out a couple of problems and describe what you might enjoy more might be helpful and allow you to have a better dialogue with the centre staff.