Awesome Walls has opened a new wall in Sheffield. Layout wise its pretty similar to the Foundry with the steepest section at one end. The centrepiece is a very similar shaped feature as the Foundry's: steep wall/roof/steep wall.
This wall is pretty big - certainly more climbing square metres than either the Edge or the Foundry. It's both higher and has more lines. The longest routes (on the main overhang) are listed as 23.5 metres but that does include a fair amount of outward climbing. Nevertheless you can't get away with a traditional 30 metre wall rope on many/most lines.
It also has two pretty long bouldering walls - pretty much all overhanging at different angles. The routes are graded according to the colour of their holds eg. all red holds were V4 - V5.
Of course quantity doesn't necessarily mean quality. Almost all the walls (lead and bouldering) are flat textured ply. There is one textured wall with cracks and features. This is pretty much vertical as I remember and has no routes set just yet.
The main lead walls are a mixture. Around half are full of nice interesting features and varied angles. The other half are fairly boring flat vertical walls. Routesetting is what makes or breaks a good climbing wall. I didn't do that many routes but these again seemed a mixture. Some of easier warm ups were definitely not so hot: machine gun line of holds. The routes on the steeper walls seemed better though. Some good routesetters involved but I imagine they've got quite a big job in routesetting this entire wall from scratch.
All in all a pretty nice addition to the Sheffield walls. Just hope it doesn't put any of the other walls out of business: the Foundry, The Works and the Edge are all excellent facilities, well managed with great routesetting.
In reply to stp: Starbucks business model is to move into an area with coffee shops, over saturate the market in a particular area so that the gross revenue of all the coffee shops in the area falls. The independants then go bankrupt, but as starbucks has stores in other areas making a profit, they survive. Their profits then raise dramatically in said area as there is no competition left; its all gone out of business.
Well for anyone who drives to a wall it probably won't make that much difference which wall they choose. But there's definitely a concentration of climbers to the south of the city who can access the Edge and the Works far more easily.
In reply to dr_botnik:
Surely this is the first wall AW have opened in a busy area though? There certainly isn't anything else around Stoke and they were in Liverpool long before the other walls there now. Bit unfair to compare them to Starbucks.
I heard the location is convenient for the m1? Probably a major factor. ..
In reply to stp: I can be at Stanage/Burbage in 10 minutes from Wath Rd. Attercliffe is half an hour. Still, one could always round off a sweaty night at la Chambre... (insert nauseous face here). I think I'd rather climb in the rainy dark.
A bit unfair. I hate Starbucks, but I did spend 2 days at AW Sheffield to see the BLCC and BSCC last weekend.
I drove 400 miles to Sheffield with my 5 year old especially for the event, and although it's the first and only AW venue I've seen, they didn't come across in the slightest as operating a Starbucks-like agenda.
Considering that to run an indoor wall you need a pretty big space then they're no different to any other indoor wall.
I should know - the south coast is pants for indoor venues - the only two within 20 miles of where I live are converted squash courts, and only one I can climb there with my daughter ("too young" or some such reason).
So, anywhere north of the South Downs, count yourselves *very* lucky for choice.
Like the capitalist monopoly machine that is Starbucks, if you don't like it, vote with your wallet.
> (In reply to Jayboy)
> A bit unfair. I hate Starbucks, but I did spend 2 days at AW Sheffield to see the BLCC and BSCC last weekend.
> I drove 400 miles to Sheffield with my 5 year old especially for the event, and although it's the first and only AW venue I've seen, they didn't come across in the slightest as operating a Starbucks-like agenda.
Did the kiddie do well? I'd hope for a podium finish after 400 miles.
I can't be the only Sheffield resident who sees walls as a necessary evil in winter as the only way to get my climbing fix (when it's too wet and/or cold to climb outside with a head torch). I've had enough of the existing three walls by Easter, so another wall for variety and to stop me getting too bored of any one wall is fine by me.
> I should know - the south coast is pants for indoor venues - the only two within 20 miles of where I live are converted squash courts, and only one I can climb there with my daughter ("too young" or some such reason).
> So, anywhere north of the South Downs, count yourselves *very* lucky for choice.
Where abouts down the south coast are you, im in Portsmouth and travel upto Craggy Island in Guildford twice a week. Thanks to the Hindhead tunnel its only 45 minutes.
Next time im up in Sheffield I will most likely be paying Awesome Walls a visit as well as The Climbing Works.
> (In reply to stp) Starbucks business model is to move into an area with coffee shops, over saturate the market in a particular area so that the gross revenue of all the coffee shops in the area falls. The independants then go bankrupt, but as starbucks has stores in other areas making a profit, they survive. Their profits then raise dramatically in said area as there is no competition left; its all gone out of business.
> Can't at all see the similarities...
Neither can I.
AW opened in Stockport, their competition was Rope Race and MCC.
RR has had no significant investment (in the climbing wall) in donkeys years, despite the fact it was rammed every night when it 1st opened. They are still going but have diversified into lots of other outdoor pursuits seems to be aimed at youth groups, still operating as far as I know.
MCC is doing very nicely thank you.
Starbucks transfer their profits abroad presumably by paying inflated prices to Starbucks Kenya for coffee beans. Unless AW are paying massive amounts for holds made in a 3rd world sweatshop opened by AW they are unlikely to be doing this. If I thought of AW as starbucks I wouldn't go near the place.
> Routesetting is what makes or breaks a good climbing wall.
Couldn't agree more.
> I didn't do that many routes but these again seemed a mixture. Some of easier warm ups were definitely not so hot: machine gun line of holds. The routes on the steeper walls seemed better though. Some good routesetters involved but I imagine they've got quite a big job in routesetting this entire wall from scratch.
I was in early to check out AW. To be fair they'd only set a pretty small proportion of their vast wall acreage at the time, but I was a bit disappointed with the routes. Not very imaginative. My climbing partner, who is a very good climber but not very tall, was extremely unimpressed with a couple of them: reeeeeach - crimp - crank - stand up - repeat until at the top, or just fed up with it.
It must have been pretty daunting as a route setter looking at a wall that size with no holds on it yet. Hopefully they can raise their game. And to be fair, while the standards in Sheff are high I've climbed equally poor routes from time to time in both of the other lead walls.
The Works deserve an honourable mention here - the standard of their setting is just superb at the moment. Not too much of the infamous Percy reeeeeach! to frustrate the shorties, and even the easiest circuit in the place is interesting and engaging.
> All in all a pretty nice addition to the Sheffield walls. Just hope it doesn't put any of the other walls out of business: the Foundry, The Works and the Edge are all excellent facilities, well managed with great routesetting.
Time will tell. But remember all the doom and gloom when the Works was opening? Not only did that not put a serious dent in the Foundry or the Edge's business, it didn't even do for the Matrix.
If anything it stimulated more demand for the other walls as well as creating a whole new scene of its own. It was the Works that made bouldering make sense for me. I was just never strong enough to get the most out of the Wave.
I doubt AW will have any impact on the Works at all. The Edge will be fine. As several posters have already said - location, location location. Perhaps Dave would have preferred to build AW in S7 or S11, but there's no getting away from it - the Don Valley is where the huge industrial buildings are.
Interesting times for the Foundry ahead, perhaps. They were the first and best for so long, but most of the punters don't care much about history. (When was the last time you heard someone complaining that the Al Rouse wall at Sheffield Poly has gone?) They'll be ok. Here's to the next 20 years.
Oh, and the whole Awesome Walls/Starbucks analogy? That's just bonkers. Get a grip.
In reply to stp:
Oh, and just to add...
There is a certain undercurrent of negativity towards the new wall in some of the posts here. I know many of us are quite loyal to one or more of the existing walls but..
Doesn't it just go to show how spoilt we are in Sheffield? Can you imagine anywhere else in the UK where an amazing huge new wall could be opening up and people would come on here and moan about it? ;O)
In reply to stp: Not just walls, you guys are in stumbling distance to amazing outdoor venues.
I bitch and moan about where I'm located but within 30 minutes I've got City Bloc and The Leeds Wall, 45 minutes would be The Depot, Harrogate, Red Goat and Rokt. Then within an hour I've got The Works, Rock City and probably a few others.
I think AW is 10 mins closer than The Works for me, which providing the problem setting is good and the bouldering varied means I'll be a frequent visitor.
Oh and in 5 minutes I have the wall in Xscape Yorkshire, which is at least a cheap and entertaining venue to spend an hour at using their auto belays.
Compare this to when I went to visit my friend in Bournemouth, I was there for a bit so took my climbing gear down. I struggled to find anywhere within an hour that was half decent, it made me realise how spoiled for indoor/outdoor I am. I ended up bouldering in a converted squash court with holes in the ceiling and tape covering up where holds had fallen off/snapped.
Still doesn't stop me from re-iterating that I think a bouldering wall in Xscape Yorkshire would do ridiculously well.
> I think AW is 10 mins closer than The Works for me, which providing the problem setting is good and the bouldering varied means I'll be a frequent visitor.
For bouldering only, I would *definitely* travel another 10 mins to get to the Works. AW has some autobelays on one of the vertical walls though, so if you're on your tod it might be appealing to take a harness and do a few laps on a route or two as well.
I do like the Works but that extra 10 minutes is 20mins on a round trip, and that could be 20minutes extra I could be climbing. Of a weekend that's not so much of an issue, but of an evening it can make a difference!
The few times I've been over to The Works I've always been impressed by the setting.
> (In reply to stp)
> Oh, and just to add...
> There is a certain undercurrent of negativity towards the new wall in some of the posts here. I know many of us are quite loyal to one or more of the existing walls but..
> Doesn't it just go to show how spoilt we are in Sheffield? Can you imagine anywhere else in the UK where an amazing huge new wall could be opening up and people would come on here and moan about it? ;O)
I think it's a Yorkshire thing rather than a Sheff thing isn't it?
Although if people think the market can't support the number of businesses and favourite and nearby walls go out of business then I guess that could be a legitimate concern.
Are bigger buildings cheaper now than they were a few years ago? That could make it easier for newer businesses to offer more creative solutions than the existing businesses.
If a wall is more than ten years old, the bouldering tends to look very limited compared to the vastness and variety that bouldering only walls have opened up.
> (In reply to Roland.Online)
> Where abouts down the south coast are you, im in Portsmouth and travel upto Craggy Island in Guildford twice a week. Thanks to the Hindhead tunnel its only 45 minutes.
I'm in Brighton. To be fair, we've recently been graced by the excellent Boulder Brighton venue, just nothing close for wall climbing.
There's the Adur wall in Shoreham (small, my daughter can't climb there), the next biggest is K2/High Sports in Crawley or Evolution in Crowborough.
I'd definitely like to check out Craggy in Guildford.
Other than that it's a day trip to London for Mile End, West Way, Castle etc. etc. etc.
So, here this Dave D: bring Awesome Walls to the South Coast!
If you can hold in there for a few more months, High Sports are opening in Brighton in January next year.
Boulder Brighton is a great centre, and if it wasnt on hour plus trip there I would spend a lot more time going there.
In reply to stp: Looks a great wall but I feel it all comes down to route setting and how much money/effort the managers and owners are going to put into the 'biggest and best'.
From a handful of visits to the foundry in the last year i have found the routes consistently good..well set from 5s upwards.I would always prioritise going there if the climbing remains what I want.
Sure the quality will settle in nicely at AW but they have a lot of space to have to keep the quality setting active in. Good luck to them.
Great for Sheffield though very jealous !!! We need some where like this in London.
Climbed there this morning for the first time. Some quick first impressions I thought I'd share with UKC.
To be expected on grand opening day it was getting fairly packed by about midday. Glad we got in early to beat the crowds a bit. I imagine it won't often be like that but the lines seemed very close together and I can imagine someone taking a leader fall causing problems for the climber next to them.
Didn't do any bouldering but had a wander round. I think it's a bit of a shame that it's all steep. The Climbing Works has got everything from delicate slabs to powerful roofs. I think a third bouldering area is opening next year, so it will be interesting to see what that's like but if I'm remembering correctly from an old Facebook post it looks like a roof/cave type set up.
Routes were fine but nothing particularly mind blowing in terms of originality, interest and flow. I might be a bit unfit and tired from climbing in the week but the grading seemed way off. Got shut down on 6a+ routes so just pottered about on the 5s, which there didn't seem to be that many of. I think it's a shame if walls don't cater for easy leading and only have lower grade routes on short top rope walls.
The height is really enjoyable and the featured prow is good fun, but it needs some more traffic to take the excess grit off.
For me personally, I'll be sticking to the existing walls for convenience. Walking definitely beats driving to the other side of town. It took ages to get home today because of roadworks and traffic. I'll probably pop to AW Sheffield as a treat every now and then but don't think it offers enough that's radically different or better than what Sheffield already has.
I live in pontefract, so im in spitting distance of xscape.
Ive done a lotof work down there, and i know that no one will be alound to build a bouldering/climbing wall down there while Ellis Brigham are there. They have a lot of say down there, though im not sure why.
It was like when the ice climbing wall was removed, ellis wouldn't sell it off, they just took it down. seem to be scared of competition.
In reply to frano81: That surprises me, they didn't seem to have much say when TGI's came barging in and knocked down one of the towers! Still, I think a small bouldering centre (even run by EB) would probably be successful there.
On topic of Sheffield/Awesome Walls, I went there today on my own. Couldn't get on any of the leading as I couldn't convince anyone to belay for me, but I had a crack at the two lines that were open with auto-belays and did the 6a,b and c which I felt were graded about right.
I mostly bouldered, which obviously isn't the real draw of the place (I don't think they're even trying to compete with The Works). What they offer is pretty functional but nothing amazing. One room is a single wall with panels going from vertical to (I think) 45degrees. Problems were ok, though there's nothing much there for the beginner, I've a few friends just getting in to climbing and it'd be no good for them.
I was able to get up the two lower grade ranges (Pink and Black, v1 to v2, v2 to v3) and then the vast majority of the reds (v4 to v5). I didn't try the next step up (v6 to v7). The second room the walls were a little more varied, with a variety of angles, you could top out too. I noticed the matting was a bit ruffled already, I tripped on one particular part twice (second room, first set of problems).
There's due to be a third room opening in the next few months too. As it is though it's certainly not a venue to go to purely for the bouldering but that's ok, it's obviously not their intention. The main wall, with the massive overhang is certainly imposing and I can't wait to go back with friends and have a crack at it. The featured wall/prow as you go in is also very impressive. At present it's features only, but there's space for some interesting routes with a bit of plastic added on.
Problems wise, they were ok but nothing to write home about. However judging by the dates on the sheets of paper next to the bouldering walls, this is the first time they've been set so I'm sure there'll be some much better ones up in the next few months. I did particularly like the final red problem in the first bouldering room.
Best part of the place? The over-powering smell of bacon as you walk through the doors! Lovely!
In reply to Kieran_John:
They don't need to compete with The Works but they could do something a bit more interesting with the bouldering other than just steep stuff. The Castle in London has six bouldering areas from slabs to caves and new outdoor boulders. I'm a bit disappointed that a brand new wall that's part of a chain with years of experience couldn't create something a bit fresher and more exciting.
> Although if people think the market can't support the number of businesses and favourite and nearby walls go out of business then I guess that could be a legitimate concern.
All the evidence suggests that more walls equals greater levels of business for the industry as a whole. I've lost count of the number of times when a new wall has opened and the common perception is that the older one will close. On none of these occasions has this happened.
More walls=greater competition=higher standards=better facilities for climbers
> All the evidence suggests that more walls equals greater levels of business for the industry as a whole. I've lost count of the number of times when a new wall has opened and the common perception is that the older one will close. On none of these occasions has this happened.
Can anyone think of occasions where a dedicated wall facility has shut down? Walls in sports centres have, but I am struggling to think of an actual dedicated wall that has closed down.
Leading...I was blown away by the steep leading. I'm surprised there isn't more praise in this thread. For routes training this, for me, is the now the best wall in sheffield. There are many lines and they are all quite high. Excellent. Someone mentioned the lines feel close together but I thought no more so than any other wall I've been too. wasn't blown away by the setting they should get Pete whittaker and Tom Randell in.
Top Ropes...I took some beginners down and they could have done with some more easy routes but then the small top roping room off to the side wasn't open yet so that will help there.
Staff...all seem very friendly and helpful. as you would expect.
General space...really like the mez floor. And have chairs/tables in the middle where you east and watch the climbing but be out the way is nice.
Bouldering...seemed like the weakest part of this wall, but then I've got the works to compare it to. plenty to go at and in nice big open rooms. I would have liked more easy stuff for beginners. I would like some slabs. I would also have liked a cave/roof
Training facilities... would like to see a Campus board, system board, circuit board etc but i realise the focus is on the routes here.
Location...many seem to think this isn't a good location. but it's in a similar place to foundry. 15mins cycle from train station. It's on my way back from work if I come down parkway which, judging by traffic, is also many other peoples way back from work. time will tell on this one I guess.
Bikes..didn't like leaving my bike out the back on a rack that wasn't even bolted down!!!
Thanks Dave look forward to training down here over winter.
> (In reply to stp) It's pretty handy for me in Castleford (though I've no lack of options in Leeds really), being on the North side of Sheffield means it's about 45mins drive for me.
> If they truly are the Starbucks of the climbing world then they can come to Castleford next and open one to compete with the wall in Xscape. It wouldn't take much...
I wouldn't mind a wall in Cass any got a bit of spare doh hanging around.
Can't wait to get down there and try it out. I climb a lot at awesome walls stockport, and I find it to be an excellent wall. The staff are friendly, well informed, and happy to answer questions not directly related to their job ( e.g. is this harness too big, how do I do that move, etc... ), and the quality of the routes is excellent ( compared to preston, warrington, bolton, manchester and rochdale ).
I am definitely going to organise a trip to sheffield in the near future and have high hopes ! Not sure if I am up for the big overhang wall but will probably give it a go anyway!
In reply to stp:
Here it is. I was just looking for this thread...
When I posted a month ago I said I wasn't very impressed with the routesetting at AW Sheffield. The OP mentioned that some of the easier routes were not so hot, maybe his easier warm-up routes were my top-end.
On Saturday I climbed at AW Stockport for the first time, what a lovely wall. And regarding the routesetting - that's more like it! *So* much better. :O)
I only did about 7 or 8 routes I think, up to about (soft) 6C, but they were all good. Every one of them was more enjoyable than any route I've done on the plywood at AW Sheff. (The features-only lines on the prow are ace.) One in particular, up the middle of the slab, was really excellent. Interesting, sustained, sequency and tricky to read. Lovely.
Thanks again for all your comments, they're all taken on board and will be used to build the new climbing centre into a greater place.
Since the majority of these comments were made we've added easier routes, built a pull-up training station (4 different finger boards plus pull-up bar), set the learning zone (30 routes), built the children's climbing zone and work has begun on the campus training area.
Ian Vickers and Jamie Cassidy are resetting bouldering areas one and two today (12/11/13)