At midday on Saturday 8 January 2011 The Climbing Hangar, Liverpool's brand new bouldering wall, will roll up its shutters and welcome the public. Rachel Hoyland has been to visit and brings back a sneak preview of what climbers out West will soon be pulling on.
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My first impression of The Climbing Hangar is that it's absolutely massive. My second is that it's going to be an awesome place to go climbing. Wondering where all the funky angles have been lately? It seems The Climbing Hangar has been stock-piling them.
An impressive skeleton of arches, slabs, twists and arÍtes has been overlaid with 7 coloured circuits graded from easy peasy to beastingly hard. By opening time a further Project Circuit will have been added by the first of the Hangar's celebrity route setters Tom Randall.
The only way to review a wall is to climb on it and after putting myself to the test on a range of problems I felt like I'd had a pretty good workout, psychologically as well as physically. At present there isn't much in the way of super steep, however, the current absence of pure roof will be addressed by Phase 2 of development which is to feature a cave as well as a dedicated training area and comp wall. In the meantime, the stepped angles, corners and mini overhangs of Phase 1 give very realistic climbing. It feels like the skills learnt on these walls will quickly be transferable to problems on real rock, which is great. It's always a bummer to discover that, despite crushing on your woody or down the wall, you can't shift your arse round some blind inoffensive looking bulge on the grit.
Sean Hopkins, Climbing Hangar staff member, tests the crux problem on the white circuit.
© Rachel Hoyland, Jan 2011
The spaciousness of the Hangar means that you won't be elbowing people off adjacent problems or having them land unexpectedly on your head (unless you choose to stand underneath them Ė in which case you're an idiot). When Phase 2 opens there will be even more space to go round. However, the Hangar doesn't feel like one of those walls where you're likely to spend half your session searching for your climbing partner in a maze of rooms and corridors. The basic layout is relatively open and easy to navigate with plenty of scope for spectating. Hurrah for the Mums and Dads!
For those looking for a little social intercourse, as well as a mega session, Arabica coffee and the very finest in home bake snacks will be on offer along with a platoon of giant sofas to chill out on. For those who just can't bear to leave, showers and free wifi will be available.
After 2 months of construction owners Ged MacDomhnaill, Crispin Waddy and Darren Winwood, along with the rest of The Climbing Hangar staff, are psyched to see the climbers of Liverpool and beyond on the wall on Saturday. Doors open at midday so come on down and grab yourselves a coffee and a climb. Celebrity setter Tom Randall will be doing a walk and talk guide of the Project Circuit at 7.30pm so seize your chance to get the beta from the man who's done the problems!
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