Calling all Cambridge Climbers

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DanD72 13 Sep 2007
We’re interested in setting up a climbing wall in Cambridge and have started the process by checking out various venues talking to the council and starting to get a handle on various costs involved.

We do have a few ideas about how this might work and be financed but I’m not going to bore fellow forum users with this. (If you want to know just ask) The main point is the thing has to be commercially viable.

Basically for something like this to work it’s got to have real climbers at the heart of the project. Otherwise you’re just going to end up having the thing run by some muppet in a tracksuit who thinks route setting involves dynoing from one jug to another a la Sylvester in Cliffhanger.

We’re having a meeting on the 17th of October, 8.00 in the Friends Meeting House on Jesus Lane if you are interested and you want to get involved. In the mean time a few questions for forum users;

• Is there a market?
• Are you a Cambridge based Climber who doesn’t use Kelsey Kerridge because its so retro (and not in a cool ironic way)
• Is this something a group of locals can pull off or do we need the financial muscle of big business to actually make a project of this size happen?
In reply to DanD72:
For the last ten years, I have been constantly amazed at the lack of any decent wall within an hours drive of Cambridge... Surely there are climbers in the flat lands!
 GrahamD 14 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:

Hi Dan,

Definately worth keeping this post current - loads of Cambridge climbers do post here (and most of them complain about existing facilities). See you Wednesday.
Sol_Cambs 14 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:
> We’re interested in setting up a climbing wall in Cambridge and have started the process by checking out various venues talking to the council and starting to get a handle on various costs involved.

I think you will find to create a decent climbing wall you are in the hundreds of thousands. Add liability insurance, add running costs, add location hire, and you are very much into a lot of start up costs, and a reliance on revenue generation - assuming you are aiming to run it on "going concerns" private basis, with some grant from Cambridge CC.

I'm sure the interest is there!

 Mark Stevenson 14 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:
> • Is there a market?
Of course there is. Cambridge was one of the first towns in the UK to get a wall 20+ years ago. It will easily support a medium-large sized dedicated climbing centre.

> • Are you a Cambridge based Climber who doesn’t use Kelsey Kerridge because its so retro (and not in a cool ironic way)
Nope. When I was there 8-12 years ago I used KK about once a fortnight. That was back in the bad old days when the outdoor wall was open, there were no bolt-ons and no matting!

> • Is this something a group of locals can pull off or do we need the financial muscle of big business to actually make a project of this size happen?

It won't really work on a part-time/volunteer basis. For Cambridge you're talking about a capital budget of around £250K-£400K if you can find a suitable location to lease and triple that if you're talking new build. If you can find a venue (key points - height 10-12+m, close enough to centre for bike access & generous parking) then you'd really be looking at 2-3 people who can commit full-time with around £100K+ of their own money.

Hope that helps.
 Mark Stevenson 14 Sep 2007
If you are looking just to build a big 'woodie' or bouldering cave like the shed in Portland or various other 'collectives' around the country then it's a different story.

Your probably talking £5K+ a year rent for a small industrial unit / lock-up in the area. 30 people @ £200 per year is rather optimistic but you might be able to pull something off on a self-build basis.

DanD72 14 Sep 2007
In reply to Mark Stevenson:

I agree with you, especially on the last point. If I had a few others I would be prepared to put the house up as collateral on a business loan as I am pretty sure there is a market out there.

Any other takers?
DanD72 14 Sep 2007
In reply to Mark Stevenson:

This could be a good initial option to get thei thing of the ground. It has less appeal to general punters and so less revenue but it may be easier to set up.
Do you know much about it, does this sort of collective avoid the need for insurance as it is not open to the public?
 GrahamD 17 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:

Bump !
Ste Brom 17 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72: its not dan of ben&ali/freshwater pondlife fame is it?
 Mark Stevenson 17 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:
> Any other takers?
Unfortunately I'm relatively settled down in the SW (and looking into similar options around here).

I've just had another thought I might as well mention. Basingbourne Barracks has a small climbing wall.

There are some precidents for military facilities to be opened to the local public. Mostly this applies to swimming pools but the wall at the Physical Training school in Aldershot was open one evening per week for several years. There are all sorts of insurance issues but it's another avenue perhaps worth a formal approach.

Best wishes.
 nr 17 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:
> • Is there a market?

I think it's a bit seasonal in Cambridge - you can tell when the students are on hols, as the KK is practically empty.

> • Are you a Cambridge based Climber who doesn’t use Kelsey Kerridge

I use it, purely for convenience - it's the only thing (other than the 'outdoor centre' at Mepal, which I've not tried yet) within an hour of where I live, so if I want to climb anything on a weekday evening it's pretty much the only choice for me.

> • Is this something a group of locals can pull off or do we need the financial muscle of big business to actually make a project of this size happen?

As has already been mentioned, property in Cambridge is expensive. Somewhere like Ely or Newmarket may well be cheaper on startup costs, and both are easily reachable from Cambridge. But, my gut feeling is that unless you have a spectacularly wealthy and generous group of locals, you'll need to be looking for sponsorship from a few businesses to make it happen.
 JGW 18 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:

No longer a Cambridge-based climber since I moved to London, but my (completely anecdotal) experience of climbing & living in Cambridge is that there is plenty of demand for a decent wall. I know climbers in Cambridge who can't be bothered with the Kelsey Kerridge (& who can blame them?!), and quite a few other non-students who I used to see at KK and enjoy a good grumble about the facilities with. It's a good point about the seasonality of student demand, but don't forget a lot of student climbers are post grads and will therefore actually be about most of the year.

Good luck with the wall anyway, Cambridge desperately needs a decent one IMO!

In reply to nr:
> it's the only thing (other than the 'outdoor centre' at Mepal

As someone looking to move back to the area, and am having severe reservations doing so due to lack of climbing wall, I've heard vague rumours of Mepal... Anyone know anything about it?
 upordown 19 Sep 2007
In reply to Pythonist:

Mepal is only open to the public one night a week and is pretty limited. Routes don't appear to have been changed in the last few years.

We go to Stowmarket from Cambridge.
 GrahamD 19 Sep 2007
In reply to Pythonist:

I wouldn't let Stowmarket, Mepal or Peterborough sway your decision - they are all slightly better than KK in their own way but not reall worth the effort.
 Ena 19 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72: I'd like to see a better facility here, but simply can't see a commercial wall working in Cambridge. I've looked into this a few times, and the costs involved really don't stack against the income. You have to say if you want an improved local facility or one to make people travel in. My calculations for a dedicated bouldering facility half the size of the Works, located in a cheap place in a cheap industrial unit doing all the work on the cheap still needed 50+ visits a day to run. In Cambridge it was triple that. Encouraging the CRC development or similar might be a better bet. Or - long shot - getting access to the wall at the Purse.

For a woodie co-op outside the town centre it's much more viable. I'll try to come to the meeting.
Diogenes 19 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:

Surely - i've been bemoaning the lack of hard core facilities in the Cambridge area for some time - I travel twice a week (sometimes 3 times) to the Castle - this is expensive and more and more time consuming...

Commercial wall or climbers co-op I'm up for exploring either approach...

DanD72 21 Sep 2007
In reply to Ena:
Ena, I agree based on purely comercial rents it would be tough but I am looking into a few different options for cheap buildings and/or funding. I think the toughest thing is getting a viable organisation in place in order to take advantage of opportunities that do materialise. A few have come up that I know of but if your not there and ready then you can't take advantage of them.

Look forward to seing you at the meeting.
 compsci 21 Sep 2007
The university club travel down to London at least one night a week as KK is so bad. I often think that they alone would create a market for a decent wall in Cambridge.

It should however be noted that most students (I was one once) are convinced that the world ends south of the railway station and north of the river. You'd need to find somewhere vaguely central, which also means obscenely expensive. Finding somewhere with enough height could also be an issue. Cambridge doesn't really do even medium rise buildings. The best location that might work would probably be somewhere a bit east of the grafton centre, where there are a lot of industrial and retail units.
 Giles Thurston 22 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:

There was talk about the CRC building a new sports centre a couple of years ago. At the time I had a chat with one of the instructors there who was keen to include a climbing wall in the plans. Unfortunately, I hear from somebody who works there that plans have been shelved or even scrapped.

I agree its definitely needed but agree that the financial restrictions may scupper a central Cambridge location
 Mr Ed 22 Sep 2007
In reply to Giles Thurston:

They should just hire the engineering dept to put a load of holes up Senate house. After all thye did put that car up there back in the 60's.

Other good locations for climbing in cambridge could be putting a load of holds up the abomination that is the university library. That might make the students much more likely to a) go there and b) enjoy it! An hr on studying an hr climbing. Could be good.

You wouldn't be able to claim the first ascent though as I believe there are pegs there already. What would you call the route though? Ssshhhh maybe? Perhaps another thread....

In summary. Yes cambridge needs a new wall. It will be an uphill battle to get one though. Perhaps a better idea might be a bouldering wall/room in one of the colleges though? Bit like Bangor uni. Not the best option but it would be an improvement on KK.

Just a thought.

Mr Ed
flatcontry keith 22 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:

I definately think a commercial climbing wall would work in Cambridge - there must be loads of people, like myself, who have given up with KK.

The mentality that the wall would only work near to the town centre and would be mainly funded by students is rubbish. The really keen student climbers would make the effort to travel away from the town centre - most other commercial centres are based out of town (I used to walk or get the bus to the leeds wall when I was a student). As for students being the main market - there are about five active climbers (and a few more hidden in the closet) where I work and I'm sure its pretty similar elsewhere, and a decent facility would also attract punters from further afield - as mentioned earlier there isn't a decent wall within an hours drive.

david Pike 22 Sep 2007
I'd be happy to get involved. I can't stand Kelsey Kerridge.... it is dull, polished and I would rather drive to P'boro... The wall in my garage is better for bouldering than KK..... the thing with cambridge is you have to attract students and keep attracting students as they come and go after (average) 3 years...
 Jim Houghton 22 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:

I was uni indoor sec last year - we've built a woody in one of the college Gyms which has served us well for the past year; campus board and small systems board type thing. We head to Mile End once a week on Wed nights - generally have between 10 and 40 people go depending on stage of term.

I reckon it would be a goer.
 Graham T 22 Sep 2007
In reply to Jim Houghton:

Best place to build it would be huntingdon, as that way you could pull people across from peterborough, kettering, cambridge, and bedford area.

Unlikely to ever happen though
 pottsworth 22 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:
maybe if they had a better wall then the uni boys would have beaten warwick in the varsity.
Don't wana sound smug or anything, but did make me feel a bit better having been turned down by oxford to beat both oxford and cambridge in their own varsity
DanD72 26 Sep 2007
In reply to flatcontry keith:


I kind of agree, while I think we need to keep all options on the table we also have to bear in mind that Cambridge is experiencing huge ammounts of growth. There will soon be a new town, Northstowe, which will be linked to Cambridge by guided bus so 15 minutes from the city centre. Also Marshals is moving out and ther is no shortage of tall buildings there. If we think long term about this we can be well placed to make the most of these opportunities.

DanD72 26 Sep 2007
In reply to david Pike:


Look forward to seeing you oin the 17th.
brale 26 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:

There are a good number of people at my work who would be very keen on such a facility, some of whom regularly travel to the Castle or Mile End. I also think students would be prepared to bike a fair way out of the city centre to a good wall. Hope it works out!
 Nutkey 26 Sep 2007
In reply to Mr Ed:

Funnily enough, the Engineering Department - which is medium rise in my book - is about to have a refurb....

I think the car on senate house was done when there was scaffolding on the Caius college side.
DanD72 27 Sep 2007
In reply to Nutkey: There are the massive Spillers Grain silos at the station. I'm sure they could support Cambridge's first multi-pitch sports routes.
You've got to thing big.
 VS4b 27 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:

I would think there are plenty of people whod use it given that the alternatives are a long way off, but whether theres enough to make it viable commercial i'm not sure.

I'd use it though, but dont have a 100k to invest

will try to come to the mtg too
 compsci 27 Sep 2007
Those silos are right on my doorstep, but I must admit to not having thought of them.

There are plans to replace most of the buildings on that site (not including the old mill with the tower on top) with random flats (think tarted up prison cells), but the plans are currently stuck in planning hell as the developer wants to build too tall and too dense, and the council are fed up with developments which aim to stick as many people as possible in the smallest possible space. Where people park their cars is also an unanswered question, which the council couldn't be fobbed off by telling them that everyone would take the train or bus.

This would seem to result in those silos living on borrowed time, but its entirely possible that the plans will fall through. Even so its hardly the cheapest bit of land in Cambridge.
 mrcog 27 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72: I would most definatly be interested in being a user however i'm only 15 so no money to invest
ed booth 27 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72: Personally I think its a great idea and something I've been mulling around for a while.

What a lot of negativity. To be hoist the costs are high – but if it can work in so many other places why not Cambridge?

Building size and accesability is the key. The Old Church route seems a no no in Cambridge, they remain oddly popular for their original use. The only one thats empty is St Marys it would be be perfect if it where not for its wall paper, uggly but apparently of great merrit. Move away from the curches and youre compeeting with premics that can be used for other industerys – hence nasty rates. But on the other hand there is the social clause in many new build contracts – where by the planners say Ok you can build xyz luxury flats for London workers but you also have to do something for the community – like put money in to a nice new climbing wall. Might be to late but the developments around the station would seem to fit the bill.

Sadly working 15hr days I'm probably all talk and not much action (or climbing) but lets go for it.

Ed Booth
 compsci 27 Sep 2007
I wanted to say something along the lines of getting foocorp developments to pay the bill, but couldn't find the words.

All Saints church on Jesus Lane is also empty, apart from occasional art exhibitions and emergency accommodation if the roof of Jesus chapel falls off. The interior is as high victorian gothic as you can get, but that does mean really high ceilings, and a tower. I believe that it is still owned by the diocese.
DanD72 29 Sep 2007
In reply to ed booth:
Ed I think you are right about working with developers, personally I think there are options with either Northstowe or new developments at Marshalls. The latter is still close to Cambridge and the former will be connected to the city by a 15 minute ride on the guided bus.
If you can't make the meeting on the 17th but you want to be kept informed there is an email address for you to register your interest.
G. Roberts 30 Sep 2007
In reply to DanD72:
I think this would be an amazing idea, there would undoubtably be a market - the amount of people that KK draws is unbelievable considering how bad it is and how much it costs to use. I have recently been queueing to get on the wall there and this is before the undergrad students are back - the amount of people who use KK must surely highlight how active the community in this flat land is, and how much a proper wall would be used.
I have regular conversations with people at KK about how awful it is and I think if someone is willing to take the initative and get something going the climbing community would back it strongly.
I dont think it has to be anything complicated either to draw a crowd, a decent bouldering facility - woodie, something for kids to get started, or even something like peterbourgh (a converted squash court?) would be a huge improvement on KK and would rake it in. Great idea - fingers crossed.
jm467 01 Oct 2007
I've been in Cambridge for the past 3 years and will probably be around for many more so I'll definitely be at the meeting if possible, Cambridge is in dire need of a decent wall...

Last year I was going climbing 3/4 times a week and none of these were at KK because it is so bad! Peterborough (1hr from Cam)), Mile End and Castle (1hr 20min), Hinchingbrooke (just found - 30mins) and Jesus College Gym (10mins) are all far more enticing.

Last I heard on this discussion the best option was probably some lenghty and arduous discussion with KK to convince them what idiots they're being in not improving their own wall. They're losing huge amounts of money because even very keen climbers would rather not climb for a day than go there. There are easily enough clubs and active members to make it financially viable in the long run...

I'm in charge of one of the few college clubs and we will probably have at least 30-40 active members this year. We would have more but generally they rely on me and and a few others to drive them to decent venues or up to the Peaks.

Amyway, sorry for the lengthy message but something really should be done, and there's very little reason (at least financially, I think...) why it hasn't been done so far.
 Solcambs 01 Oct 2007
Think Dan's absolutely right about the trying to convince KK to do something. In the short term this has to be the easiest answer for central cambridge.

Also good to hear there's something at Hinchingbrook! Any directions/address to share?

ps .. they should serve up gasmasks - jeesh the rank odour of the place.
 GrahamD 01 Oct 2007
In reply to Solcambs:

What can the KK do ? it doesn't have the height to make a decent wall.
 Ena 01 Oct 2007
In reply to GrahamD: We may have a difference of opinion. I think it's an ideal height, and so much could be done for £10k with that space and a good set of panels. Even keeping the original wall and restoring it to it's 1981 beauty! My main gripe about the KK is the ventilation. It's a wonderful wall, but add a few steep panels, a moon board and a campus board and it would be excellent.
 GrahamD 01 Oct 2007
In reply to Ena:

I'd agree with ventilation and I agree it would make a good dedicated bouldering facility. I don't agree that this is sufficient to get enough punters through the door - beginners and old tradsters like their roped climbing !
 Paz 01 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

These things have been proposed for years - I'd look into why others have failed, if only to learn from their mistakes. Mark (and Anni) (dunno if they're still around, he was on here recently) put together a realy plush looking proposal, but Caius wouldn't let them build on the chalk pit they wanted, or something.

You'd also do well to look at the new bouldering only style walls, boulderUK + climbing works.
 GrahamD 01 Oct 2007
In reply to Paz:

> You'd also do well to look at the new bouldering only style walls, boulderUK + climbing works.

 Ferg 02 Oct 2007
I'll definetly be attending the meeting. I saw the note in Field and Trek last week.

My wall climbing is currently limited to a trip to Stowmarket a few times a month, and a twice yearly trip to KK (my memory is poor, and for some reason my rose tinted specs make me think it's got better!).

As a distraction, one point worth mentioning is that Stowmarket are currently developing one of the Squash courts (on the corridor to the wall) as a bouldering wall. Mind you this is still an hours drive away.

 Pete Atkinson 02 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

Great to hear this discussion taking place, Cambridge needs something!

How many climbers are there in Cambridge? the town club has doubled in numbers in the last 2 years and is now about 80 members, not sure how many there are in the Uni and Colleges + the mass who arn't members of any club.

It sounds like people are prepared to travel quite a way to use a good facility so the catchment for a 'good' wall would be relatively large.

I seem to remember the University is talking about building a new sports centre, not sure if climbing would be included in that.

I will be at the meeting.
leeza 02 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

It would be so great to have a decent climbing wall in Cambridge!

KK wall is sad. Travelling to climbing walls elsewhere is expensive and time consuming.

Would be interested to attend the meeting and be involved.
Phil Anderson 02 Oct 2007
Not had time to trawl the full thread but
1. Yes there are a number of groups becoming active to promote a wall: it now requires coordination between groups. Actually having a MEETING! Good stuff. So advertise it to
Open Air
Field and Trek etc etc etc

preferably as a printable A4 poster for windows, A5 as a take home leaflet.

2. Our thoughts are that a commercial wall just won't work: land prices in Cambridge are too high, and an out-of-cambridge site won't work.

3. Target areas are likely to be New KK or West Cambridge.

4. If your really keen, get Camb. Even. News to cover the meeting!

see you there,

jm467 02 Oct 2007
In reply to Solcambs: I've only seen the Hinchingbrooke climbing wall once and haven't yet found out exactly what the deal is... Hinchingbrooke School use it for their games lessons but I don't know whether you can just rock up and climb there. I also can't find much on the web. I think it's in Hinchingbrooke Country Park. When I've found out more I'll let you know.

And KK isn't that small. Of course it would be great to have a decent leading area, etc... but I very much doubt it would go that far. If KK's existing wall were improved to the extent that people start using it instead of places like Peterborough (also just bouldering...) then they might look at adding a roped area later on...
Terri Martin 02 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:
Yes, yes, yes! I would gladly pay a generous yearly membership fee to a climbing gym that was continually hanging new routes. You would be suprised how many people would join if it was there because its a fun and great way to get in shape.
DannyB 02 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

Hello there!

As a on-off long-ish term Cambridge resident (8 out of the last 10 years!), I've got a number of comments/ideas/thoughts. Will definitely be there on the 17th, good effort Dan for sorting this out.

Basically, in my time here, I've seen a number of people put together plans only to see them fail. Paz, you're right, Mark and (Anni I think?) had it really worked out but I think the issue was the land.

Having seen and worked out some figures myself, yes, it would have to be a serious business to start a dedicated, commercial centre from scratch. Not infeasible, but it would need some clout and financial backing to make it work (but nothing beyond the reach of a decent financing plan with the help of some business angels). The real issue here is that you need someone based here full time to work full time on it and make it happen. Frankly, what serious climber is going to chose to base themselves in Cambridge?! If it wasn't for the uni, and the subsequent clustering of jobs, i'd be out of here in a flash. Well, maybe stansted and access to font are also positives... but you get my gist! Anyway, a new centre could be a goer, but it needs someone with a lot of commitment to step forward and a serious business plan.

The co-op idea sounds really cool, I actually hadn't thought about it before, despite having been involved with Jim & co in getting the Jesus College gym wall (physically!) up and running. This is definitely something people-power can achieve. The only real issues that might cause problems are the legailties and the insurance. Nothing, I'm sure, that can't be overcome. This is a good idea.

Then, the situation with KK is ridiculous. Acutally, completely independently (I only just found this thread!), I've been trying to contact the manager at KK for the past few weeks to arrange a meeting. I'll spare you a slightly long and uninteresting story relating to a business plan a friend came up with over the summer for something completely different... but the outcome was I was inspried to crunch some numbers for KK. I actually cannot believe they have not invested the £15k or so it would take to cover their entire existing wall with a decent panel system!!!! I would be perfectly happy with a KK size wall properly done - I don't really care about indoor climbing, I just care about keeping strong! Anyway, I simply cannot believe they haven't upgraded it. Either:

1. They have an issue with financing. This can be *easily* resolved, with some careful thought and effort.
2. They don't realise they have a probem. Also potentially easily resolved, assuming the manager has a micro-ounce of business-nous!
3. The have an issue with beaurocracy. Tricky, might be a consequence of dealing with a council funded facility.

Whatever the cause, I wanted to meet the manager to find out what the issue was. This is something I'll put on hold till the meeting on the 17th.

Simply put, unless there is someone out there with the commitment to start a serious business, the co-op and the "persuade or make it sufficiently attractive for KK to upgrade their wall" options sound like goers.

I look forward to the 17th!

 GrahamD 03 Oct 2007
In reply to DannyB:

On the issue of the KK, getting the local press invited to Dan's meeting might address "they don't know they have a problem" point pretty effectively - especially if we get a big turn out.

Personally I'd much rather have a wall that does have leading facilities but a revamped KK is miles better than nothing.
 Pete Atkinson 03 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

With regards the KK not knowing they have a problem, how about inviting the KK manager to the meeting so they can get an idea of the extent of feeling. My own attempts at talking to anyone at KK was very negative but I realy think they don't have an idea there is an issue or any demand (or what a good climbing wall is like!)
Richard Katz 03 Oct 2007
I've been in Cambridge for a year and climb regularly at Mile End in London (5 quid students, 7 non) with climbers from the university club. I refuse to go to KK---not just because it is a crap wall. They charge 5 quid and do zero maintenance, zero routesetting, zero cleaning... the place usually smells bad!

I think it is worth keeping in mind that a bouldering gym might be just as successful in Cambridge as a roped climbing gym, and could cost much less to set up. Look at the bouldering gym in Sheffield and the new one in Bristol ( ... worth getting in touch with them re advice/financing?). The gym in Sheffield is a great place to climb. (Even on a bouldering wall, a kiddie birthday party---probably neccessary for revenue---could do top-roping).
Phil Payne 03 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

Would it be possible to apply to the lottery for some sort of grant? If only climbing was going to be an Olympic event, then I'm sure then you could get them to throw loads of money at the project.
 Paz 04 Oct 2007
In reply to DJ:

Well done on Jesus!. Is there no way you can get punters/town in to make it even better? I'm sure StuL would advise and inspire on the coop idea - he pioneered the whole concept in Exeter FFS. Even if he didn't have time, there're still other fundamental problems to solve that don't go away (e.g. land/building prices). In the mean time I look forward to your online cambridge building bouldering guide. . How can they send you down for that in the information age if you do it right? Call it Parqour. I expect an extra grade at least for formal hall shoes.!

GrahamD - leading routes cost £££. You've not been to climbing works have you?

In reply to Richard Katz:
> and the new one in Bristol (

Err, Yes. The simple matter of planning position for change of purpose of a warehouse away from residences, how hard could it be in a free country....
 GrahamD 04 Oct 2007
In reply to Paz:

I haven't been to climbing works but I do know what I and many others would like to get from a climbing wall and bouldering isn't all of it by a long stretch.

I guess it comes down to what you want - a conventional climbing centre which attracts its share of punters or a dedicated training facility only for the committed. I would argue that one would get a lot more throught the doors than the other.
DannyB 04 Oct 2007
In reply to Paz:

I totally agree with paz on the bouldering only facility, it's far easier to set-up run, far less capital intensive and generates more turnover per unit floor space. Plus, bouldering is fun and there are far lower barriers to entry for newbies.

Parcour for sure - i saw some kids doing parcour on the Sidgwick Site the other day. One of them was pretty good too!

 Paz 05 Oct 2007
In reply to GrahamD:

I know you are widely experienced but that just sounds like willfull ignorance. You should at least try it first before you diss it. If a new roped facility was unfeasable for previous parties, then you can't afford to close your mind as a climber, especially when you don't know how good it could be before you've tried it.

It's not all about clunking ropes about and belaying - you can still get pumped on a bouldering wall, you must have tried a traverse at Mile End?

I myself am just saving climbing works for a rainy day, as it cannot possibly live up to my dreamlike wonderland expectations. But I'm sure it's as good as they (all) say.
 Paz 05 Oct 2007
In reply to DannyB:

Good to hear. People just want to climb or just do shit. Living miles from rock doesnt change that, and the want wil out itself somehow.
 GrahamD 05 Oct 2007
In reply to Paz:

Remember that the KK is my local facility, (which is bouldering) followed by Mile End which is 90% bouldering so its not as if most of my local wall climbing isn't at bouldering venues.

When I get to somewhere like Kendal where I have the choice, I choose the roped wall everytime - it just feels more satisfying to me. Most people who use that wall must be of a like mind as its the roped areas of all grades which are the crowded areas by all ages.
 GrahamD 05 Oct 2007
In reply to DannyB:
> (In reply to Paz)
> I totally agree with paz on the bouldering only facility, it's far easier to set-up run, far less capital intensive

Not disputing one

> and generates more turnover per unit floor space.

That depends on the usage profile. If it precludes groups of kids who want to try roped climbing during school holidays that might not be true. Just having the wall crowded for an hour or two in the evening and deserted in the day might not be a good buisness model.

> Plus, bouldering is fun and there are far lower barriers to entry for newbies.

On that we can agree to disagree. I know plenty of people who boulder for preference but for me its just something I do because there isn't anything else available.

DanD72 05 Oct 2007
In reply to Paz:

Can I remind you all that the reason I have started this whole process is to see what we can achieve. I agree with Danny B this is a tall order but not impossible. I also think he is right to think that tis needs someone to work on it full time. But no one individual, even working full time is going to be able to do this.

The truth is there are opportunities out there, some have been missed already. If we are going to be able to capitalise on the opportunities that will come up in the future we have to organise ourselves. This will require a team of people who are able to offer this project a bit of commitment.

A decent climbing centre ought to be able to cater for both bouldering and leading. If you can do that then you will maximise your income as well as offering people a way into the sport.

I would suggest that we put our efforts into actually achieving a climbing centre rather than arguing about what goes in it.
 GrahamD 05 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

Good to have the debate, Dan - it keeps the post up the top of the forum
 Paz 05 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

I only said you should consider it based on recent succeses elsewhere. OK, best of luck.
Terri Martin 06 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:
Nate Postma owns Vertical Endeavors Climbing Gym. I believe that he has been involved with other climbing gym efforts in Europe. I belonged to his gym in the States and loved it. It was well designed to make money (bringing in families, parties, and new members) while retaining challenging bouldering and lead routes for the more dedicated. This meant if you were at a leading level there was plenty of routes to choose from even on a high customer volume day such as a Saturday. I am sure if you contacted him he would be happy to answer some questions.

 S i'm on & on 08 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

I'm another ex-Cambridge climber pleased to have left the flatlands. I wrote the Cambridge walls directory on the CUMC website so am acutely aware of the joy of driving to Mepal, Peterborough and Stowmarket. Hmmm.

However, I now work for DR Climbing Walls so if you need some professional advice, give me a call - 0113 284 2369. I can give a realistic idea of costs, sizes, do you some graphics once you've a building space sorted etc etc. And even build it for you
 GrahamD 15 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

Hi Dan,

Everything set for this Wednesday ?
 GrahamD 17 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:


Hopefully see people there this evening.
 Solcambs 18 Oct 2007
Sohow did the meeting go ... can someone post an update?
 GrahamD 18 Oct 2007
In reply to Solcambs:

I don't want to steal Dan's thunder but it was a well attended meeting and a few folk have agreed to help Dan explore a few of the options in a bit more depth.
DanD72 18 Oct 2007
In reply to Solcambs:

The meeting was really well attended so thanks to everyone.

There was broad agreement that Cambridge needs something better and a range of views as to what that might be.

I think that is fair enough as I didn't really expect there would be universal agreement on any one option. I have had notes taken so I will email a more detailed version to everyone who gave me their emails.

The most productive thing that came out of the meeting was the agreement to establish a committee representing local climbers to make the case for the need for a better facility to be recognised in local government strategies. I admit that it might not sound terribly exciting but this is really important.

Cambridge is not like Sheffield where the numbers of climbers, and the value of climbing to the local economy is widely understood. We have to make our case like any other sport.

Making that case is vital for any change to occur in the future. I think it is fair to say that developing a large climbing centre is something only likely to be achieved in the long term. In the mean time the two options seem to be to work with Kelsey Kerridge to improve their facility or for someone to have the guts to go for it and try to open a commercial facility.

I think the committee is likely to be useful in helping with either the former or the latter. As for someone being entrepreneurial enough to set something up, I am on record as saying I am looking into seeing if it is possible. I can’t say much more on this right now other than that last night was very encouraging in a number of ways.

As for the committee I am happy to lead on this, I set up last nights meeting, paid for the room and I have a list of emails and people interested. I will be contacting you in due course.

What I do think is important is that the committee fairly represents all the opinions expressed last night. There was a clear split between people would be happy just a bouldering facility and those who want more. I would encourage both groups to get involved as it will ensure that your views are represented and that the committee reflects all views rather than becoming a narrow clique.

There is a meeting with the Council planned for the 30th and I will try to get a committee meeting before that if possible. I am also trying to get a blog set up so I can keep people informed as things develop.

That is quite a post, It was a really good meeting and thanks to everyone who attended. Keep watching this space.
G. Roberts 23 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

Just for more general info, an excellent example of what can be done with a relativley small facility, in a small university town. Looks like an amazing modern bouldering wall that can cater for different levels of ability from beginners all they way up.
 Solcambs 23 Oct 2007
In reply to G. Roberts:

Wahey .. that's good to know .. I live in Cambridge, but come from Durham! I'm up there often enough to visit my folks - and now have somewhere to dissapear to for a couple of hours when my folks get too much and I need a distraction.
 Solcambs 26 Oct 2007
In reply to DanD72:

BTW .. is this anything to do with you Dan?

if not .. then perhaps you can fill out the survey and combine forces!
G. Roberts 05 Nov 2007
In reply to DanD72:
Just wondering if there is any news on the new wall/KK refurb front?
 Solcambs 18 Nov 2007
In reply to G. Roberts:

It's been very quiet hasn't it!

On a "bouldering facility" done well - I was in Durham this weekend, and checked out the Durham Climbing Center at Meadowfield Industrial Estate. Very very good for those who might want to go bouldering - no height there, but a very well put together center with masses of wall, top class matting, campus board, and even a kids area. Well worth a visit - and actually a model of what can be achieved with an industrial unit.
 GrahamD 19 Nov 2007
In reply to Solcambs:

It's been anything but quiet ! a lot has been going on recently and some serious proposals are being worked on. If you want to lend your support, get in touch with Dan.
 Solcambs 19 Nov 2007
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to Solcambs)
> It's been anything but quiet ! a lot has been going on recently and some serious proposals are being worked on. If you want to lend your support, get in touch with Dan.

I'm following up on a commitment to keep people informed ... would be nice to have an update.

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