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why are climbing walls so expensive?

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 bobbyspangles 01 Jan 2022

it costs £37 for me, my wife and 2 children to go to our local wall.

yet £8.50 for all of us to play badminton in the same venue.

what's with that?

it's cheaper to drive to Burbage for us, but it's a tad moist at the mo.

where are the costs in running a wall? is it an insurance thing?

31
In reply to bobbyspangles:

staff

1
 Maggot 01 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

Ferraris ain't cheap you know.

4
OP bobbyspangles 01 Jan 2022
In reply to Jackspratt:

nah I don't buy that. swimming pools have staff and walls are still more expensive

3
 Andypeak 01 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

Most swimming pools are council run and highly subsidised. I'd say £8 or £9 is fairly reasonable.

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In reply to bobbyspangles:

> it costs £37 for me, my wife and 2 children to go to our local wall.

> yet £8.50 for all of us to play badminton in the same venue.

> what's with that?

> it's cheaper to drive to Burbage for us, but it's a tad moist at the mo.

> where are the costs in running a wall? is it an insurance thing?

Interesting question, How much do you think walls should cost?

Rent and overheads are obviously the biggest costs. Staff bill in any decent paying facility won't be cheap.

Then you get to wall maintenance, matting and holds. Matting is so so expensive and does need regularly checking and replacing when a bit squidgy. Holds are also gaining strength in the the price department, customers are becoming more aware of brands and shapes, especially with the Olympics and commentators mentioning brand names and technology so of course the general climbing population wants the latest and greatest at their local walls.

If you compare a climbing wall to a leisure facility such as David Lloyd it is still very cheap, especially considering you pay for a day pass not just a pair of hours. for example Clip and Climb you pay for a timeslot, usually an hour and that is between £12 and £20.

I got to Europe a fair bit for work and the walls in Germany and Austria are between 15 and 20 Euros and I do not begrudge paying that as the facilities are incredible. The UK walls are slowly upgrading to that level and it just costs more money. There's a definite shift in customer balance in walls from just climbers who can't get outside because it's raining and the customers that want an experience and will most probably never climb outdoors, if you visit London walls that customer is almost overtaking the traditional climber now and so the facilities upgrade with it. Gym equipment, specialist training boards, cafe/restaurant, shops etc etc. I mean take Depot Sheffield, that has a retail space better than anything in the immediate vicinity, you'd have to get to Outside to find a better selection of equipment.

Anyway rambling paragraph over, same question I started with, How much do you thing walls should be?

P.s. the edits are for my appalling spelling

p.p.s I think the Works has close to 30 members of staff.

Post edited at 22:22
1
In reply to bobbyspangles:

Climbing holds add up, routes also need to be set..insurance probably a bit more expensive as well? I think the fact is there are several additional costs compared to a static badminton court. Have you thought about an annual membership? These generally work out cheaper in the long run 

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 NaCl 01 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

You don't reset a swimming pool as often though. 

Also water's cheap compared to regular investment in holds, volumes etc (and maybe inspections?)

I'd also hazard a guess that a climbing wall requires more staff overall also as pointed out above.

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OP bobbyspangles 01 Jan 2022
In reply to McKEuan:

£20 for a family ticket. 

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OP bobbyspangles 01 Jan 2022
In reply to NaCl:

pool water is regularly cleaned, treated and heated I'd suggest.

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In reply to bobbyspangles:

> it costs £37 for me, my wife and 2 children to go to our local wall.

> what's with that?

Wall's aren't expensive. Having a family is. 

I reckon the wall costs me about £5 per session.

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OP bobbyspangles 01 Jan 2022
In reply to Garethza:

if love to but we only use indoor walls when it's bloody horrible outside.

membership of our local would be 2k for all of us per year, nah. that's a lot of gear fundage to spaff away 😂

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OP bobbyspangles 01 Jan 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

amen to that. I'm just keen to encourage my children into climbing and not let them fall foul of football like those before them. 😁 

4
In reply to bobbyspangles

Too cheap though. Most walls are around £8.50 to £10 for single adult entry.

It would be great if walls where that cheap but then we'd had substandard facilities and nothing would be refreshed or new. Then the staff would probably be under paid on zero hour contracts so everyone would leave.

I remember when Reading CC opened and it was £11, I thought that was criminal but when you compared it to walls in the local area it was leagues ahead.

Family membership at most walls is pretty cheap 40 quid a month etc for 2 adults 2 children. 

1
 NaCl 01 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

Sure. But a climbing wall is also heated. The water is obv' treated and cleaned but by a machine rather than a person pushing Henry round the place, again reducing the staff bill .

1
 JayLewin 01 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

There are many things that a climbing wall has to cover. Considering there’s likely to be little to no help from councils or other government bodies unless they’re a charity. They have to be a self sustaining business. But even then. They have to turn a profit in order to remain relevant to market trends and evolving industry standards. 15 years ago you’d of been happy to pay 25 quid a month for a wall that had a bit of climbing, maybe a campus board and a woodie in the corner. Now days the standard that we expect as a customer are so much higher with the expectation that prices should still be really low. When in reality it just doesn’t work that way sadly. Otherwise we’d have sub standard places to climb indoors that only cost 20 quid a month.

The costs in running a climbing wall facility can quickly  add up. And that’s just regular business running costs. Let alone the added climbing wall specific ones. 

You have things like 

Premises cost

Business rates 

Insurance which would include but not limited to professional indemnity, public and product liability, employers liability, building and contents. 

Staffing costs to cover the desk. 

Basic bills like phone, internet, Data storage and back-up, Computers/laptops, Stationery, First aid supplies, Power cables/extension cords, Accounting system, emails, website running costs, payment systems electric, water, gas, stock for any items they may sell. 

Then come the climbing costs. Climbing grips are expensive, for a reasonably sized gym, you’re looking at 50-100k. Volumes are expensive, around 20k matting around 100k. Wall build could be anywhere from 100k to 300k. Then you have to maintain these things as they deteriorate over time. So you have to reinvest in them. Wall inspections too.

you have route setting costs they cost 160-250 a day… Each…

As well as paying instructors. These costs then increase further if it’s a rope facility. 

im sure I’ve missed things. But as you can see these things add up very quickly. 

 Snyggapa 01 Jan 2022
In reply to JayLewin:

autobelay servicing I believe is fairly regular and expensive

 Dave Todd 02 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

My local wall (Climbing Works) costs me and my 2 kids £500 per year.  Less than £10 per week for the 3 of us - bargain!  I realise that this model (annual fee, numerous visits per week) doesn't work for everyone (especially less frequent visitors) but many walls seem to offer some way of reducing the costs for regular users - might be worth seeing if your wall offers something.

OP bobbyspangles 02 Jan 2022
In reply to Dave Todd:

this is part of my frustration really. I'd happily pay a family membership but it's not offered so we'd be paying 4 individual memberships at £38 each. too much

Post edited at 07:43
OP bobbyspangles 02 Jan 2022
In reply to JayLewin:

I agree and would understand if the wall I'm focusing on is a stand alone unit but it's not. it's part of a large campus leisure facility

 Si dH 02 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

> this is part of my frustration really. I'd happily pay a family membership but it's not offered so we'd be paying 4 individual memberships at £38 each. too much

Charging £38 per month for kids does seem expensive and short sighted. A lower price would help get more local kids in to climbing and create more customers, as well as give opportunities for some kids who otherwise wouldn't get them. For an adult that price is fairly standard. (I quite like the pricing structure of the Hangar, where it's £11 per individual adult visit but a monthly membership is only £30 so if you go regularly it's good value.)

Post edited at 07:55
In reply to bobbyspangles:

Climbing walls are spectacular value, £8.50 for a whole days climbing if one has the stamina. Resets, comp walls, heating, staff etc etc. Comparing to a fixed facility with a one hour slot and one member of staff on the desk isn’t comparing like for like. Even at trade prices, one of those funky volumes on the comp wall is going to take a lot of visits before it’s paid for. 
Given how crowded and popular most walls are, I suspect that price elasticity of demand would allow for significantly higher prices before numbers were affected, so as walls aren’t charities It’s surprising prices aren’t higher. I suspect that in a lot of walls,, the pricing structure is set as being ‘fair’. As another poster has observed, families are expensive, however there are great deals to be had for over winter for example. 

Post edited at 08:43
5
In reply to Dave Todd:

> My local wall (Climbing Works) costs me and my 2 kids £500 per year.  Less than £10 per week for the 3 of us - bargain!  I realise that this model (annual fee, numerous visits per week) doesn't work for everyone (especially less frequent visitors) but many walls seem to offer some way of reducing the costs for regular users - might be worth seeing if your wall offers something.

It cost me £3.50 entry to the Works last week, mega bargain!

In reply to NaCl:

> Sure. But a climbing wall is also heated.

A heated climbing wall!? I can only dream of such luxuries! 

In reply to bobbyspangles:

How much more would badminton cost if they had to set all the court markings/lines to new shapes every month?

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 Duncan Bourne 02 Jan 2022
In reply to McKEuan:

Good post. A few points I thought of...

I don't think the average climber gives a monkey's what brand holds are used. All that matters is are they usable.

Of far greater importance are the routes and how they are graded and that takes skill and should be paid accordingly. Refreshing a pool takes less skill and time than re-setting problems (especially on lead walls). I have abandoned going to some walls because the problems either never changed, or there was a huge gap between easy and hard routes, or they were just boring.

In reply to Si dH:

At Redpoint and Flashpoint in Bristol, I can bring in 2 children at a time for free under my monthly membership.

I think I probably only pay equivalent of £3 a visit for 2 of the best centres in Bristol. An absolute bargain when you think about it.

 NaCl 02 Jan 2022
In reply to Wide_Mouth_Frog:

Weeelll, ok, some have some heating. 

 Si dH 02 Jan 2022
In reply to Steve Claw:

> At Redpoint and Flashpoint in Bristol, I can bring in 2 children at a time for free under my monthly membership.

> I think I probably only pay equivalent of £3 a visit for 2 of the best centres in Bristol. An absolute bargain when you think about it.

Yer that's really good. My local wall doesn't seem to do cheap memberships for kids, but they do a one hour supervised/instructed session for £8 including entry, which I think is very good (and means I can go climbing.) I think individual kids entry without instruction etc is £7 so roughly 50% discount on the adult rate.

Post edited at 10:10
 mik82 02 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

I'm sure this was discussed a few months ago. I don't think climbing wall entry prices are particularly expensive, considering you normally get several hours of activity.  Prices are comparable to other unsubsidised leisure activities eg. Trampoline parks, ten pin bowling, cinema etc.  It's £8 just to go and watch a local football club in the Midland football league. 

 Sean_J 02 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

Rather than blind speculation over running costs, it would be interesting to see an actual wall's books and see what exactly everything costs - rent, staff, insurance, utilities, a bit set aside each month for replacing holds, matting etc.

I'm not convinced that the cost of resetting is actually that high, given that a reset for a certain circuit or section of wall might take 2 people a day to do and only needs doing every month or two (or three or more for certain walls!). Given that you need multiple staff for reception, floor-walking every single day it's a pretty low relative expense. I don't think setters exactly get footballer salaries either, even if you're the best of the best.

I think UK walls are reasonably priced on the whole, given the high standard most moderns walls have achieved. Eastern European walls for example are cheap but they're not as good - like UK walls were 20+ years ago basically. Price is about what UK walls were 20+ years ago too, come to think of it!

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 PaulJepson 02 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

The costs are pretty fair and a lot has already been covered. 

It takes at least three years for a wall to cover the initial build/set-up cost. Matting a centre will cost 45k on its own. I believe Flashpoint spent ~275k on holds and volumes before opening.

Walls can also charge, within reason, whatever they want. In some cities you could put the entry price up 50% and the walls would still be rammo. Why wouldn't you? Compare it to somewhere like the artificial surfing wave in Bristol (which is vomit-inducing in cost, and totally prohibitive); it's cheaper to drive on your own down to Bude than spend an hour there.

In cities with more than one wall, you pretty much have to hit the same price bracket as the other walls.

A wall is expected to be open all day, when there'll only be a handful of people in during the working day, and the walls will be running at a loss. 

For the person who said it doesn't matter what holds you use and people don't care, you're well off the mark. If there were 2 centres in a city and one had all the latest comp volumes, macros, half-wood, duel-text etc. and the other had nothing but Core basic resin holds, one of those walls would be empty. The market is being driven by youtube videos and people in rolled-up wool hats jumping around and saying 'sick!'. The demand for boning down on little crimps is somewhere a decade back.

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 wbo2 02 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:  I would be interested to know if the wall is run by the same people who run the badminton courts, or if they're subcontracting out, and the wall needs to rent the space.  Is the facility council or privately owned.  If it's council owned, then the costs are going to be heavily subsidised by owning the building (no rent), renting it to schools etc.

I don't think anyone is getting very rich running a wall.  There's a lot of cost involved when you add it up.  What's a good estimate of the initial startup cost of a decent sized wall, taking into account buying a wall structure, initial holds and so on - that needs to be recovered as a start?  (Edit - I see Paul covers this above, but I can see 1/2 a million going puff very quickly)

Post edited at 10:54
 Sean Kelly 02 Jan 2022
In reply to NaCl:

> Sure. But a climbing wall is also heated. 

Really? Can't say I have ever noticed!

In reply to bobbyspangles:

The one thing that consistently strikes me is how poorly paid most climbing wall jobs are when they're advertised on here. I'd much rather pay £10 to go to the wall in the knowledge that the staff can just about survive and live on their meagre wages. I don't think anyone is getting rich running climbing walls.

In reply to PaulJepson:

> The costs are pretty fair and a lot has already been covered. 

> For the person who said it doesn't matter what holds you use and people don't care, you're well off the mark. If there were 2 centres in a city and one had all the latest comp volumes, macros, half-wood, duel-text etc. and the other had nothing but Core basic resin holds, one of those walls would be empty. The market is being driven by youtube videos and people in rolled-up wool hats jumping around and saying 'sick!'. The demand for boning down on little crimps is somewhere a decade back.

Right on the money, YouTube is definitely defining the demand for posh holds and decent setting. for some folk now their standard kit for indoor climbing is shoes, chalk, tripod and gopro!

4
 timjones 02 Jan 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Wall's aren't expensive. Having a family is. 

> I reckon the wall costs me about £5 per session.

If you don't know exactly how much it costs you I'm guessing that you are probably paying for some form of membership?

I'm sure that I'm not alone in not having a wall close enough to home to make membership a viable option

 timjones 02 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

> it costs £37 for me, my wife and 2 children to go to our local wall.

> yet £8.50 for all of us to play badminton in the same venue.

> what's with that?

> it's cheaper to drive to Burbage for us, but it's a tad moist at the mo.

> where are the costs in running a wall? is it an insurance thing?

How many hours climbing do you get for your £37 and how long do you get to play badminton for £8.50?

 Andy Farnell 02 Jan 2022
In reply to Si dH:

The Hangar is excellent value if you get the membership. Go twice a week and it works out at £3.75 a visit. Three times a week and it's £2.50 a visit. Plus you can use it in all of their venues. Can't argue with that.

Andy F

In reply to bobbyspangles:

Is it really that expensive? For example, Depot monthly membership is £36. If I'm psyched I can manage 5 sessions a week, which works out as £1.85 a session. I can't think of many sports where membership gets me access to facilities for that sort of price while being able to stay in there for hours and hours. One-off prices are not as good of course. Does your wall do 10-visit passes and the like? Even those give a very significant discount and can be used up over many months.

 summo 02 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

> it costs £37 for me, my wife and 2 children to go to our local wall.

> yet £8.50 for all of us to play badminton in the same venue.

> what's with that?

Look at the infrastructure required to play badminton? I'd imagine their insurance policy is a little cheaper too? 

How many wealthy climbing wall owners or managers have you met or heard of?

Post edited at 15:18
3
In reply to Andypeak:

> Most swimming pools are council run and highly subsidised. I'd say £8 or £9 is fairly reasonable.

Very true.  Climbing wall prices tend to be in line with private gyms and the likes (other than the budget ones).

 thepodge 02 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

My gym costs 7.99 a month and must have an equipment cost matching or exceeding any of my local walls, generally has a similar number of staff to my local wall, is cleaner, has more facilities and is open 24/7. 

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Message Removed 02 Jan 2022
Reason: Incorrect Information
 thepodge 02 Jan 2022
In reply to Andypeak:

I thought most councils were getting rid of anything and everything because they couldn't afford them any more. 

I have heard, I do not know if it is correct, that the Sheffield Awesome Walls was subsidised by the council as they wanted to generate footfall in the mainly industrial area. 

 thepodge 02 Jan 2022

In reply to Ian W:

In that case their announcement wasn't very clear.

OP bobbyspangles 02 Jan 2022
In reply to timjones:

1hr badminton, as much climbing as we'd like however 9yr olds, at least mine, burn out quite quickly. maybe I should train them harder. 

using the badminton comparison as we play at the same facility which houses the climbing centre. 

 Ian W 02 Jan 2022
In reply to thepodge:

> I thought most councils were getting rid of anything and everything because they couldn't afford them any more. 

> I have heard, I do not know if it is correct, that the Sheffield Awesome Walls was subsidised by the council as they wanted to generate footfall in the mainly industrial area. 

Incorrect.

They may have been able to claim some RSA if applicable to that area (but that isn't / wasn't council funding, but its pretty safe to say there was no council subsidy.

Post edited at 22:59
In reply to bobbyspangles:

£9.25 each seems good value to me. What would say a cimena visit cost?

My stock response to your original question is if you think its expensive why not set up your own place, under cut the original place a bit and live the high life with all the money you will make.

It's easy to do, just build a business plan, find suitable premises, fund it either through a bank loan, investment or if you own a good enough one re mortgage your house. Staffing won't be a problem, just pay a little more than the original place and poach their people.

Ps the costs involved in running even a small business and employing people are eye wateringly expensive, at least they make me cry Everytime I look at the books. 

1
 summo 03 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

It would seem some climbers are trying to compete with cavers as the tightest adventure sports folk. 

Ps. You won't win, cavers are in a class of their own. 

In reply to thepodge:

Really, can you point me to this announcement as I have no memory of us saying anything of the sort.

We paid all staff/workers their rota-ed hours until the end of March 2020.

We kept all of our PAYE staff on the books and claimed furlough whilst we could. We paid one self employed staff member the equivalent of what they would have got on furlough as they had asked to go on PAYE but we messed up (March 2020 was a bit stressful) so we looked after said person

1
In reply to PaulJepson:

The demand for boning down on little crimps is somewhere a decade back.

But but but, that's what I enjoy/am good at. How long until fashion swings around? I want to be cool again. 

 Rampart 03 Jan 2022
In reply to summo:

>  some climbers are trying to compete with cavers as the tightest adventure sports folk.

Maybe they're an untapped market, and if there were facilities that let folk squeeze into improbable crevices in the warm and dry and light there'd be piles of cash to be made?

 thepodge 03 Jan 2022
In reply to Rampart:

Surf Snowdonia has an indoor caving experience, I quite fancied a go but it was closed for Covid. 

In reply to Rampart:

Entre-Prises made a dry cave at the Clip and Climb in Gijon (Asturias, Spain) that I had a play in back in 2016. Bloody brilliant.

It was designed by Colin Boothroyd who ran EP UK back then and was a full on gnarly caver back in the day.

Post edited at 19:03
 summo 03 Jan 2022
In reply to Rampart:

> Maybe they're an untapped market, and if there were facilities that let folk squeeze into improbable crevices in the warm and dry and light there'd be piles of cash to be made?

You don't cave do you? There is only one thing that could make a section of tight, arduous, undulating, hard to locate passage better... an active stream flowing through it! 

 chris_r 03 Jan 2022
In reply to Dave Todd:

> My local wall (Climbing Works) costs me and my 2 kids £500 per year.  

Wow. That's a serious bargain. My local wall (Awesome Walls) would be £900 for the same thing. And even that doesn't seem outrageous if you regularly went as a family every week (£17 a week). 

In reply to Dave Todd:

It might cost you a bit more as of 2 days ago as we put up prices for U18's on family memberships. It was crazy cheap as I think you have acknowledged, but the increase is not very much and the family membership is still great value.

In reply to chris_r:

> Wow. That's a serious bargain. My local wall (Awesome Walls) would be £900 for the same thing. And even that doesn't seem outrageous if you regularly went as a family every week (£17 a week). 

My annual membership at Redpoint in Bristol is approx £450, so works out at approx £3 for my vists p.w. And (should I wish to) that also gets me unlimited access to their two other venues (Bristol and Swindon). 

 Cobra_Head 04 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

How long do you climb for, and how long do you do other sports?

Work it out hourly and it's not so bad, We climb about 3-4 hours so £10 is £2.50 an hour, compar that to the pictures for example.

In reply to bobbyspangles:

> it costs £37 for me, my wife and 2 children to go to our local wall.

> yet £8.50 for all of us to play badminton in the same venue.

> what's with that?

> it's cheaper to drive to Burbage for us, but it's a tad moist at the mo.

> where are the costs in running a wall? is it an insurance thing?

Stop being such a tight bastard or get your kids to pay for themselves.

Bloody climbers wanting everything at a knockdown price, invest in a golf brolly and piss off outside.

2
 mutt 04 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

My local wall costs 8.50 per session or 45 per month or 55 with gym session, yoga and other classes included.

My (dynamic strength training) gym costs 100 per month for 3 45 minute sessions a week..

By that measure unlimited climbing and classes costs about half that of the gym. 

Looks like a good deal to me.

Post edited at 16:41
 MeMeMe 04 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

It seems like badminton is a bargain, the only down-side being that you'll have to play badminton.

 Mick Ward 04 Jan 2022
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Hi Graeme,

Would have expected you to take care of people as best you could - and am glad you did. 

Values are values. They can prove damned expensive at times - but they're still values. They define us.

Mick 

1
In reply to Mick Ward:

Thanks Mick, long time no see. Get in touch if you are ever up north again

OP bobbyspangles 04 Jan 2022
In reply to Boris's Johnson.

oooh you're hard

Post edited at 21:50
1
OP bobbyspangles 04 Jan 2022
In reply to bobbyspangles:

had a top session at redpoint brum today, all in£25 for a family ticket  that's more like it.

2
In reply to bobbyspangles:

Gotcha

2
In reply to tehmarks:

>  I don't think anyone is getting rich running climbing walls.

Most are charities which require public accounts. I've only looked a couple but in both cases directors were paying themselves 70k+.

4
 PaulJepson 06 Jan 2022
In reply to becauseitsthere:

That may well be the case once they're up and running. I worked at a wall and I know the owner/director who worked there was on that kind of salary, but I also know that the partners who owned/set it up worked without taking a salary for the first couple of years it was open. One of them had to keep their other well-paid job to sustain them. It's a massive investment; I wouldn't begrudge an owner for ending up well-off out of it, as I'm sure there are just as many who fail and lose everything. 

In reply to becauseitsthere:

That seems like fair reward for assuming the full responsibility (and I suspect usually the full risk) of starting and running a successful business.


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