Bouldering Upgrade Starts at EICA: Ratho after Sportscotland Investment Press Release

© Serious Climbing

Works on the upgrade of the bouldering facilities at Edinburgh Leisure's flagship climbing arena at Ratho will begin on Monday 3rd June  following a major funding investment from sportscotland's Sport Facilities Fund. There will be a steady schedule of works across the summer and autumn as the changes occur.

The Edinburgh International Climbing Arena received £100,000 towards bouldering redevelopment to improve opportunities to progress at all levels of the sport.

As the UK's largest climbing gym and the only international competition venue, it has hosted European Championships and World Cup for Lead and Speed in recent years, but the bouldering facilities needed an upgrade to enable it to host all three IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing) and Olympic disciplines.

The new state of the art competition bouldering wall, designed by the Rockcity team, means that Ratho becomes the only climbing centre in the UK with Olympic standard facilities for all three climbing disciplines (lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering). Meanwhile, the 'real rock' freeform iconic boulders are being repurposed to a new site in the west of Scotland.

As Mark English, Managing Director of Rockcity explained: "The arena will host additional modern flat panelled bouldering walls and another freestanding boulder to give the Edinburgh community the best facilities in the city and surrounding area, using an unrivalled climbing hold selection and world class route setting. 

"When the work's complete you can expect to see Edinburgh Leisure's flagship climbing experience jump into the future and host some amazing competition and circuit-based bouldering later this year."

The investment has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players, who raise £30 million each week for good causes across the UK.

Welcoming the investment, Emma Ogilvie-Hall, Head of Operations at Edinburgh Leisure said:

"We're delighted and very grateful to receive the sportscotland funding that means our outdated bouldering facilities at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA) can be replaced.

"With indoor bouldering now the most widely practised form of climbing it will ensure that the EICA can continue as a world class venue for all three climbing disciplines – lead, speed, and bouldering – while continuing to provide climbers of all ages and abilities with access to opportunities to participate in and progress through the sport.

"It will also mean that Scotland is able to host bouldering competitions and national training camps and allow the EICA to keep our national and international profile as a world-class climbing facility."

The EICA:Ratho was among 18 projects across Scotland to share a total of £1,506,263 from sportscotland to develop existing facilities or create a new home for sport and physical activity.

Chief Executive of sportscotland, Forbes Dunlop, said:

"The aim of the Sports Facilities Fund is to support sustainable and inclusive projects with their ambitions of using sport and physical activity to enhance the lives of their local communities. This investment would not be possible without National Lottery players who continue to raise vital funding for sport across Scotland.

"The physical and mental health benefits of sport are well documented, but equally important is the ability to create a space where everyone is welcome to participate at their own level.

"Projects like this one at the EICA not only create opportunities for people to take part in sport and physical activity but can also provide a place for communities to come together.

The Sports Facilities Fund prioritises projects that widen access to participation or allow people to progress further within their chosen sport locally by removing barriers, particularly in rural areas or areas of deprivation, and for under-represented groups.

In addition to the investment, projects can benefit from the expertise within sportscotland's facilities team to maximise the impact that their plans will have, ensuring they meet the needs of their local communities now and in the future.

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30 May

Looking forward to seeing this completed. My only slight concern is that the smaller island boulder looks quite close to the corner left the Justice Wall. That's often the busiest part of the arena and it could get really congested. Does the warm-up frame & equipment get relocated somewhere else or will it just be 'lost'?

30 May

Being a bit of a dinosaur I will miss the old boulders.

30 May

Aye, bang goes the option to keep your precision footwork up to speed over the winter. Just slap them on the volumes from now on.

Doesn't really solve the cold/damp/humid/greenhouse conditions (delete as required) usually encountered in the open arena.

30 May

Yes, I am absolutely gutted. Those exquisitely featured boulders have been an absolute mainstay of my training for the last twenty years and Ratho will be much the poorer for their demise, especially as they are no doubt going to be replaced by the now tediously generic comp-style, run and jump, parkours-like, volume-infested blobfest, swarming with juvenile "athletes" who wouldn't recognise a real piece of rock if someone smacked them on the head with it.

A disaster on the scale of an earthbound extinction level meteor for us real climbers.

30 May

This, and similar posts, feel a bit over the top. The modern breed of competition climbers seem to be pretty handy when they turn their attention to real rock, so I'm not convinced the modern walls are as catastrophically terrible for training on as all that. There's certainly a subset of especially dynamic boulders with very little relevance to climbing most actual rocks but I've never been to any bouldering facility that's truly dominated by those, there's always a variety of styles available.

Someone else bemoaned the lack of options to train footwork because of volumes. I find volumes can sometimes present some real footwork challenges, especially on slabs, in terms of finding the sweet spot of friction and optimal foot position, in a way that's very applicable to some rock types. And I also reckon that the tiny dual-texture footholds are way more challenging to stand on, in a very Limestone-esque way, than anything I encountered at walls 20 years ago (whether screw-ons or features).

Change can be annoying and it's rare that it's all upside. But it's rare for it to be all downside either.

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