/ Pay to belay at the castle

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GwilymR - on 13 Jun 2017
Partly a rant, partly seeking advice.

Was asked to pay full price entry to the castle today when I went just to belay my partner. They said I would "still be using the facilities" but beyond buying a coffee I'm not convinced I would be.

Is this common practice across commercial walls? It's never happened to me before but I'm also not sure I've ever been to a wall just to belay before and only did today because I'm injured.

Can you recommend walls in London where people just belaying are not charged?

Cheers,

Gwilym
2
balmybaldwin - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

Very common. You may not be out to swindle, but there'll be plenty of others that are "just belaying" and do anything but, and with the focus of floor walkers needing to be on safety, and not trying to work out if everyone with their feet off the floor has paid the right fee.

If you know the wall well and the staff and have an obvious injury there may be special cases made, but that depends on your relationship with the wall and wouldn't be extended to anyone....

A part from anything else you could well be suspected of using their facilities for paid coaching services taking away business for their in house instructors
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yesbutnobutyesbut - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

I reckon I should get in half price cause I spend half my time climbing and half belaying.
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winhill - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> Very common.

Is it? I've climbed at over 20 walls around the country, although never London and it's never been raised.
BusyLizzie on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

I think it's usual not to have to pay if you are taking a child and just belaying because the child doesn't belay, isn't it? Which is not what the op was asking, I know.
balmybaldwin - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to winhill:

But do you only belay in 20 walls?

I even know of walls with charges for spectators e.g. parents (that aren't allowed to belay)

At the end of the day it's up to the wall, and a huge amount will rely on how you ask the question
maybe_si - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

It's a crappy London thing, nowhere else in the country will you have to pay to belay... happy to be proved wrong but that's what I've found!
gilesf - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

What maybe_si said.
It's never happened to me in Sheffield.
Fraser on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

As (most) others have said, it's more the norm *not* to pay if you're only belaying.
guy xavier percival - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:
You shouldn't have to pay just to belay. I take my daughter into undercover rock and only have to pay for her. She is too small to belay me so I don't climb.

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bouldery bits - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

There's a cost of a couple of pounds at Lakeland wall (Kendal) to come in and only belay. That seems fair to me.
I like climbing - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:
I would give them a call in advance and discuss it.
stp - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

Either the receptionist got it wrong or it's a total scam. You're not using the facilities (ie the wall) if you're just belaying and the time spent climbing on the wall is going to be half what it is if there were two of you climbing.

I've occasionally gone along to my local walls in Sheffield just belaying and it's never been an issue. I don't pay, just as anyone not climbing wouldn't pay.

It also sounds like really bad business practice as I imagine few people will go if they have to pay for their belayer as well.
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Graeme Alderson on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

Everyone in the building is using the facilities to a greater or lesser degree. Water for toilets or electricity for lights aren't free. Insurance is needed for anyone who is in the building. So there are costs involved just for being in a climbing wall.

Having said that I can guarantee that there is no charge for belaying at the Works.
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Ramblin dave - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> It also sounds like really bad business practice as I imagine few people will go if they have to pay for their belayer as well.

Surely the vast majority of people, apart from parents taking kids, go to the wall with a belayer who's also planning to climb?

I'd agree that walls that charge parents full admission to belay or supervise their kids are probably shooting themselves in the foot, but otherwise they could probably ban non-climbing belayers without much impact on the business, let alone charging them.
Bwox - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> really bad business practice

It rarely seems like the Castle is struggling for business...
stp - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> Surely the vast majority of people, go to the wall with a belayer who's also planning to climb?

Absolutely. It's definitely a minority thing but it does sometimes happen.
duchessofmalfi - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Bwox:

Never seen this before at any other wall- the Castle should be ashamed of this, but then the Castle is in such a dominant position I guess they think they can more or less get away with anything and it will still be rammed. It does make it £20 a pop to take a child to climb which probably makes it the most expensive place in the UK at the moment.
stp - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Well maybe the belayer will buy a cup of tea and a sandwich whilst they're there and some money will be recouped that way. Cafes don't usually charge an entrance fee or worry about the cost of flushing the toilet and the lights are on whether someone is in there or not.

But I suppose if the place so popular they don't need more customers anyway they might as well screw the bastards for every penny they can get eh?

Mike Stretford - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> Surely the vast majority of people, apart from parents taking kids, go to the wall with a belayer who's also planning to climb?

Obviously, but it does crop up from time to time, mostly due to injury. I've 'just belayed' once due to injury, and been belayed by an injured partner once, in 20 years of climbing. On neither occasion did the belayer have to pay..... it's pretty obvious when someone isn't climbing, no shoes or climbing chalk in sight.

I've also supervised and belayed kids at roped walls/ bouldering walls, never had to pay.

How far does the Castle go? Do they charge parents to watch their kids climb as part of a class?
Post edited at 12:09
Alex Riley on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Mike Stretford:
At the wall where my wife works of you don't have a partner and they aren't too busy a member of staff will belay you for free.. opposite end of the spectrum..
Post edited at 12:37
MarkJH - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

> Was asked to pay full price entry to the castle today when I went just to belay my partner. They said I would "still be using the facilities" but beyond buying a coffee I'm not convinced I would be.

Another way to look at it would be to consider two pairs (one where both partners are climbing, and the other where just one is). In principle, both pairs are taking up a single line at the wall whilst they are climbing, but if the belayer in the 2nd case was not paying, the wall would be getting only half the money whilst still seeing the same 'use'.

I can see the commercial justification for not charging belayers (particularly when with kids), but I can also see the reasons why a wall might want to charge.
1
Martin W on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

> the Castle is in such a dominant position I guess they think they can more or less get away with anything and it will still be rammed.

The issue could be that there is a limit to how many people they can allow in (eg compliance with fire regulations, insurance Ts & Cs). If that's the case then letting a belayer in for free could mean that they have to turn away a paying climber.

But I'd be some doubt as to whether that's what's actually behind the Castle's policy.
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In reply to GwilymR:

Hi Guys

We saw the thread and thought it would be best to explain our stance to prevent any further speculation.

As Graeme pointed out everyone in the building is to a greater or lesser extent using the facilities and it is partly for that reason we charge when adults come into the Centre to belay their partner. As a mixed use Centre, with bouldering, autobelay rooms and group climbing services (The Session), it is possible to come and climb, including on the ropes, without a designated belayer. There are certain circumstances when we waive this for example if a parent is coming into the Centre to belay their child. The primary reason we waive the cost in this instance is because children aren’t allowed to climb unaccompanied by an adult. Of course there may be instances that aren’t covered by this policy, and if any customers feel they may qualify for free or reduced entry they are welcome to check with us by calling in advance of their visit.

We do appreciate all the different viewpoints that have been expressed, however this is a stance we have taken for various reasons. There are lots of costs involved in running the wall – from insurance, electricity, additional staffing to ensure all health and safety requirements are met. While these costs aren’t always transparent to customers it’s something we still have to account for when deciding the best way to charge customers for use of the facilities. It’s also worth mentioning that we have had a few instances in the past when customers have been allowed into the Centre to ‘belay only’ free of charge and staff have subsequently found them climbing with their partner.

Occurrences when someone asks to ‘belay only’ are rare and while not all parties will agree, we feel that paying for entrance is the fairest rate to go by.

Cheers,

The Castle Team
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Ramblin dave - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

Anyway, the real question is why they don't give a reduced rate to people who aren't going to boulder but just lounge around on the mats showing off their ripped upper bodies and tatts.
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John Clinch (Ampthill) - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to MarkJH:

> Another way to look at it would be to consider two pairs (one where both partners are climbing, and the other where just one is). In principle, both pairs are taking up a single line at the wall whilst they are climbing, but if the belayer in the 2nd case was not paying, the wall would be getting only half the money whilst still seeing the same 'use'.

Whatever the rights and wrong that is a fallacious argument. It would only be true if the person with dedicated belayer climbed twice as many routes as each of the the paying guests in the both climbing pair

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lithos on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

i use the Reach and don't pay to belay when taking my niece, don't know if thats cos she's too young ?
MarkJH - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to John Clinch (Ampthill):

> Whatever the rights and wrong that is a fallacious argument. It would only be true if the person with dedicated belayer climbed twice as many routes as each of the the paying guests in the both climbing pair

If I had someone belaying me, that is what I would do; I'd try to do lots of easier stuff and work on stamina. Others may differ, but on average, at least, someone with a dedicated belayer is likely to do more routes than someone without and therefore the wall would have less entrance fee for the same amount of use.
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JLS on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to The Castle Climbing Centre:

>"everyone in the building is to a greater or lesser extent using the facilities and it is partly for that reason we charge"

I'm guessing you voted Tory.
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winhill - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

> Everyone in the building is using the facilities to a greater or lesser degree. Water for toilets or electricity for lights aren't free. Insurance is needed for anyone who is in the building. So there are costs involved just for being in a climbing wall.

Pretty specious as many of those are fixed costs.

Also having been to the Works in winter I reckon I heat the place with my body warmth to a much greater degree than the cost of any light I absorb, so probably due a rebate of some sort.

PaulW - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to The Castle Climbing Centre:
Nice reply from The Castle Team. People frequently go to climbing walls as much for the social side as anything else, it's a private facility which has a cost of entry.

You don't have to pay. Your partner could surely find someone inside to belay them. You could wait outside.

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bouldery bits - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
> Having said that I can guarantee that there is no charge for belaying at the Works.

Could I bring a team of about 6 spotters; someone to bellow positive, yet meaningless, bouldering platitudes (send it dude! e.t.c); a scraggy dog and my beanie caddy?


Post edited at 22:20
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Oceanrower - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to bouldery bits:

> Could I bring a team of about 6 spotters; someone to bellow positive, yet meaningless, bouldering platitudes (send it dude! e.t.c); a scraggy dog and my beanie caddy?

I suspect that, as long as they all buy cake and coffee, then, probably yes.
duchessofmalfi - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to The Castle Climbing Centre:

Is there an entry fee for the cafe?

Another point of view is that the belayer is offering you (the climbing wall) a free service by facilitating the climber. Perhaps you should be paying them?
1
Neil Williams - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:
> Either the receptionist got it wrong or it's a total scam. You're not using the facilities (ie the wall) if you're just belaying and the time spent climbing on the wall is going to be half what it is if there were two of you climbing.

Erm, is it? Do you genuinely stand around for 50% of the time? I bet you don't, I bet the climber just climbs more.

Though I'm not sure of what my view is, to be honest. I can see both arguments (and the argument for a lower entry fee rather than none). I think it's just a matter for wall policy, and if you don't like that policy (especially somewhere like London where there's so much choice) don't climb there and so don't pay them money.

It's perhaps of note in all this that childrens' theme parks where adults can't go on most of the rides (or go on them only to supervise their children) still charge for accompanying adults - often a higher price than for children!
Post edited at 08:02
Neil Williams - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

> Is there an entry fee for the cafe?

As a bit of an aside I must admit that on occasions I have considered the M6 Toll charge to be an entry fee for the fairly nice and quiet-ish service station along there, particularly if wanting to meet up as a group there on the way somewhere.
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Neil Williams - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> I even know of walls with charges for spectators e.g. parents (that aren't allowed to belay)

This has long been accepted practice in swimming pools and the likes though is less common than it was.
1
Neil Williams - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:
> It also sounds like really bad business practice as I imagine few people will go if they have to pay for their belayer as well.

Most people go climbing in a pair or a group. It affects a tiny minority of people.

Generally, I will only ever take a novice in a group of 3 so I can climb myself as well, unless we're just bouldering. If I was a paid instructor that would be different, but if I was a paid instructor I would certainly expect to have to pay to use the wall, quite possibly in excess of the usual entry charge because of the for-profit nature of the activity. I wouldn't even expect that all walls would allow paid instruction by outside instructors at all - some no doubt won't as they would want their own instructors used.
Post edited at 08:09
Matt Vigg - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to The Castle Climbing Centre:

To say an injured belayer is using the facilities is just daft, I appreciate it's not cheap to run a wall but I think charging for this is pushing it. I've belayed a few times in walls when injured and never been charged, it's bad enough agreeing to go to a wall when you're injured let alone getting charged as well!
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nufkin - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Matt Vigg:

> To say an injured belayer is using the facilities is just daft

For the person belaying, yes, perhaps, but you could argue that from a climbing wall's point of view each unit of two people on the rope lines count as a 'user', regardless of which one is actually on the sharp end. In that spirit, perhaps the person doing all the uninterrupted climbing should pay for the one doing all the belaying?
Matt Vigg - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to nufkin:

Yeah I'm sure there are various crazy ways you could justify it. I know on the rare occasions I've been the only one climbing in a pair I don't end up climbing more than usual, if anything a bit less than usual. And you always spend more time sat in the cafe.
Ramblin dave - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Matt Vigg:

> Yeah I'm sure there are various crazy ways you could justify it.

To be honest, I think the fundamental one is that it's their business and their price structure, and if it seems unreasonable for what you're getting out of it then you can go somewhere else or your mate can find another belayer for a couple of weeks.

I mean, there are all sorts of cases where you could argue about whether people deserve reduced or increased fees - people who are only going to be in for half an hour then nip off, people who've turned up an hour before closing, people who are going to spend all day there with long recovery breaks, people who hang around on the rope for ages between attempts... fundamentally they've decided that it's simplest for them to just have "peak" and "off peak", and getting into a tizzy about how it's deeply immoral for them not to cover some special case that affects people once in a blue moon and that you can easily work around anyway feels a bit entitled, to be honest.
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Mike Stretford - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Ramblin dave:
I don't see anyone getting in a tizzy.... it's just a bit surprising. Yep it's their business, and it's probably supply and demand, same reason hotels in London cost so much.
Post edited at 13:58
Matt Vigg - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Entitled?! That's a bizarre take on my comments, I'm just giving my opinion (and there's no tizzy involved). You're right that it's up to them, but you can run a successful business and still be nice and reasonable.
Ramblin dave - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Matt Vigg:

Sorry, that bit was more about comments like "it's a total scam" and "they should be ashamed" further up the thread than a criticism of your post.
Matt Vigg - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Ah ok, no worries.
Graeme Alderson on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to winhill:

Insurance is not a fixed cost, it increases with footfall. And I have to record every visit so that if someone has an accident (eg even being landed on) I have evidence that they are in the building, and of course recording a visit has a cost.

Water is not a fixed cost, if someone who is not climbing comes in and uses the toilet, it is still an additional cost.

Notice that I did not put a value on these costs or comment as to whether I agreed on a charge for belaying/visiting, I was just countering stp's statement that merely being in the building didn't cost anything.
Graeme Alderson on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bouldery bits:

No dogs, unless you are a Director of the Works ;-)
stp - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Do you genuinely stand around for 50% of the time? I bet you don't, I bet the climber just climbs more.

Yeah and if they rest less they will get tired even quicker and will may well end up doing fewer routes overall.
stp - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> Sorry, that bit was more about comments like "it's a total scam"

Well I'm not in a tiz either. I'm just pointing out an obvious fact.
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stp - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

> Water is not a fixed cost, if someone who is not climbing comes in and uses the toilet, it is still an additional cost.

Well if you're a bloke using a urinal then it auto flushes regardless of who uses it so it is a fixed cost. Of course women flush for every visit so it seems like since the entry fee is the same for both men and women, us men are subsidizing women in toilet water usage. Shouldn't the entrance fee reflect this difference and thus been cheaper for men? Or maybe visits to the toilet should be charged on a per visit fee, the same as the wall in general. This would encourage more people to go at home before they set off, or simply bring their own a bottle, and could reduce the entrance fee significantly.
Tyler - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> Or maybe visits to the toilet should be charged on a per visit fee, the same as the wall in general. This would encourage more people to go at home before they set off.

Or maybe it would just encourage them to crimp one out in the corner leaving a load of toilet paper fluttering around like at many crags.
Martin Hore - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to winhill:

> Pretty specious as many of those are fixed costs.

But fixed costs still have to be paid for surely. They don't just get covered out of thin air.

I'm with the wall on this one. If a belayed line is in use then the wall can justifiably expect to see the proceeds from two entry fees. If it happens that one person climbs all the time then perhaps the appropriate course of action, as others have said, is for that person to pay both entry fees, since they will get double the normal amount of climbing.

Martin

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Matt Vigg - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Martin Hore:

Except the point is that if two people are climbing they'll climb maybe 20 to 30 routes between them, if only one is climbing then it'll be 10 to 15. The uninjured climber doesn't suddenly become twice as fit when they're being belayed by their injured friend.
john arran - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to GwilymR:

I find it hard to believe that any wall would charge full price, or indeed much at all, for people not to climb. Seems like awful exploitation of those who are just doing people a favour by giving up their time to help others. Either that or they are practically accusing people of lying just to get in and climb for free. What a horrible world it is where either of these could be such a serious concern as to justify such a rule.

In terms of insurance costs and admin, I could see how a minimal charge of a quid or so might be justified And I would rethink if it were the case that fire regulations specified a maximum number of people in the building, and that number was actually being reached such that they were turning people away - but nobody has so far suggested any reason like that. The so-called justifications above based on time spent climbing are simply bollox.
Graeme Alderson on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

So men don't poo!

Do we need to start asking people their toilet usage when they leave and then charge them accordingly. No of course not

But you original assertion that there are no costs unless you climb are totally wrong.
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JLS on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

I'll try to remember not to flush if I visit.
How much will you save annually if climbers can be convinced to be a bit greener and only flush every second dump?
Rock to Fakey - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to MarkJH:

> In principle, both pairs are taking up a single line at the wall whilst they are climbing, but if the belayer in the 2nd case was not paying, the wall would be getting only half the money whilst still seeing the same 'use'.

Not true, it's half the use, the cimbing pair spend half as long on that route, as the belayer doesn't climb. They then move on + spend half as long, as a pair, on the next route too.
They carry on doing this until the climber says.. Hey! This aint good, i'm only getting half/ none of my usual rest between climbs! Go have a cup of tea + i'll eat my power bar on the couch/ bean bag/ chill out zone.

I've done this, belaying only, explained i am injured but want to stay interested, eg, over winter, and not been charged, Redpoint Bristol, didn't charge, but whilst i popped into Gloucester Warehouse today, i noticed they have a 'belay only' charge of £1.50, which seems reasonable.

The thing is, there is little gain for the belayer, they are actually offering their services for free ( if true), and the climbing wall benefits if this was pre-arranged with the climber, by having a paying customer who may otherwise have not been able to climb that day, although perhaps they would have arranged something with a climbing climber for another day if no one (not even just a belayer) was available that day.
Rock to Fakey - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Martin Hore:
> since they will get double the normal amount of climbing.

People don't become able to climb for twice as long in this scenario, u actually burn out faster as the resting between climbs will be less, but even if u tried to rest as normal, you will only last as long as you do as a climbing pair ... for most people this is not until burn out, but more likely just the 3 or 4 hrs, whatever you could allocate yourself around your other weekly scheduling.

Should people pay an entry fee just to go in + have a cuppa / read old donated climbing mag / books ?
Post edited at 00:14

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