After hearing positive things I dropped into HarroWall for the first time yesterday after finishing a job early.
Generally impressed. Large spacious facility, decent enough (modern style) setting, excellent coffee. I'll definitely be back next time I'm in the area.
I only had limited time so I just did some mileage. I worked through three circuits in the main area behind reception (supposedly V1-3,V2-V4 & V3-5) compressing probably 70+ problems.
As much as I'd like to believe I was going well after a few days rest, my overwhelming impression was that the three circuits were generally a full grade overgraded. I've visited lots of walls within the last few weeks; The Works, The Arch, Oakwood, Craggy in addition to my local one at Oxford Brookes so I should have a good basis for comparison, at least within UK indoor climbing.
I'd be really interested in hearing from others who climb there. Soft touch grading isn't the worst thing, but it'd be useful to know for future reference if it's systemic or not.
For example, once you know that Craggy Island route grading on the main overhang is consistently 2-3 grades under-graded it's easy enough to work around. It's just a pain until you've worked out what's going on...
Would anyone else care to comment?
Thanks in advance.
PS Did I mention the coffee was really good
PPS Watch out with the parking. Thankfully I spotted him first, but there was a very "efficient" individual ticketing four cars parked at the end of the building as I arrived.
I can only do the white and yellow circuits, so V0-V2 and V1-V3, so can't compare the harder ones. I've also bouldered at the Castle and Arch North in London, Beacon in North Wales and TCA Printroom in Glasgow.
At the grades I'm climbing, the problems at Harrowall seem in line with the other walls I've climbed at.
I think it could feel undergraded because of the large range of grades the colours cover, so, if you take the yellows for example, you could be getting a lot of V1 problems with the odd V3 thrown in the mix, but they're all on the same circuit, if that makes any sense. I've probably done around 40 problems on the V0-V2 circuit, and maybe 5 of those were actually V2, the rest being much easier.
Nobody ever went bust massaging the punter's ego.
No experience myself but I have heard from a few sources (both punters and setters) that bouldering grades in London are competitively soft with each other.
If you can climb a 7a at one venue but can't at the other, you're going to choose the one you feel you climb better at, right?
It's not soft, you've just got stronger after visiting all those other walls!
Like any other wall, it's not very consistent in my opinion. Some sets are hard, and some soft. Having climbed at most other walls in London though, I'd say the setting here leans slightly soft relatively.
> if you take the yellows for example, you could be getting a lot of V1 problems with the odd V3 thrown in the mix, but they're all on the same circuit, if that makes any sense. I've probably done around 40 problems on the V0-V2 circuit, and maybe 5 of those were actually V2, the rest being much easier.
That might well be the issue, very few at the upper end but lots at the very bottom.
> No experience myself but I have heard from a few sources (both punters and setters) that bouldering grades in London are competitively soft with each other.
That might be the case, although not entirely sure.
None of The Arch, Craggy or Oakwood have seemed soft recently. In fact I was complaining that the current V5/6 circuit at Oakwood felt nails. However, of them, only The Arch is really a "London" wall.
> It's not soft, you've just got stronger after visiting all those other walls!
That’s the aim
However I've been pretty much at exactly the same bouldering grade for well over a decade so not really convinced...
Like a lot of walls in London there's a gap in the progression ladder specially on the steeper angles...I'd say the V2-V4font 6-6c) grade is very poorly represented.
I climb at a number of these London walls and climb at a similar level to the opening poster.
I think Harrowall and its sister walls (Vauxwall, Croywall, Ravenswall) all grade consistently with each other. Part of the problem when comparing grades is that they are in bands and we have no idea what the distribution of grades in that band is meant to be. The comp problems are given a single grade so are more useful for comparison. From that I'd say Harrowall is marginally softer than other walls in London but not by a whole grade. The distribution within the circuits is roughly equal, but that varies with the setting.
The Arch walls (B1+, Acton, North) used to be really soft in the circuits (comp wall was better), but they have recently changed the circuit grades. I'd say they are now pretty accurate and a little harder than Harrowall. Stronghold is about as hard as Harrow, Yonder around Arch levels. Mile End is similar - I find that one difficult to judge...I don't know if it's me but the walls feel so much higher at Mile End than anywhere else!
The hardest walls I'd say are Craggy Island Sutton and White Spider. Craggy is old school bouldering with a lot of crimpy moves and awkward positions. The setting feels different to the other walls and is about a half grade to full grade harder than other walls. White Spider has hard grading by up to a whole grade imo. That is true of circuits but especially true of the comp climbs. They have V3s that I just can't do whereas I'd be flashing that grade at most other walls.
> Nobody ever went bust massaging the punter's ego.
Probably one of the best Forum replies I've seen this year.
>I've probably done around 40 problems on the V0-V2 circuit, and maybe 5 of those were actually V2, the rest being much easier.
This is exactly right, if there’s space for 5 blocs in the V0-V2 circuit. It’s likely the spread will have two V0’s, two V1’s and one V2.
The spread of the grades within the circuit will also depend on the chief setter. They have the final say on the softness or stiffenss of the grades to ensure some consistency across the centre.
Wasn't always the case.The arch/biscuit factory (with building 1 later)around 2012 end of 2015 ..I think that was a perfect balance.I saw many novice climbers progress by simply being motivated and wanting to rise to the occasion over a 1-3 year period.The progression ladder was there with realistically graded probs V2/fb6a/+ upwards.It can be done this way.But it possibly conflicts with a long term financial model that will pay salaries ...rent etc etc.
However, you’re going to get better customer retention by easing people in so to speak. People like having their egos massaged. Those ego’s are paying the bills.
As long as the grading is consistent in that particular wall, I don't really mind some walls being softer than others for the following reasons:
That being said, I do dislike circuits that have a range of grades, especially if there's more than two grades being represented. Each problem should either have its own grade shown or, if that's too much work, the the circuits should only have a maximum of two grades represented. Any more than that and it's hard to climb at your limit most of the time.
I was back at HarroWall yesterday. Still not convinced by the grading; setting still decent enough and coffee still excellent though.
Following on from previous comments, any circuit covering 2 or 3 grades SHOULD cover them fairly equally. It's a rather poor show labelling something V3-V5 if most are V3 and only two are V5. It'd be much better for everyone if it was just labelled V3-V4 and accept that there might be a couple of sandbags. Unfortunately, whilst circuits based on coloured holds are aesthetically pleasing but they are never going to end up as accurately graded as routes that are individually tagged. Probably just need to accept that the grading for walls using that approach is going to be a bit wide of the mark...
TCA in Bristol certainly used to address the problem by listing which blocs in any circuit were particularly High or Low in the grade range. It's extra effort but it was always very useful information.
In hindsight, I have to admit that there is perhaps not as much steep climbing around as I initially thought. I don't know if that's a particularly good or bad thing.
Fred Rouhling's visionary route Akira at Les Eaux Claires, France, has finally had a repeat after 25 years and not only one, but two! Seb Bouin and Lucien Martinez made the 2nd and 3rd ascents of the route.