Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Leeds Wall

Finding your way around a strange city by bus is always a daunting experience, but on this occasion I found the bus driver unusually pleasant and helpful. It's amazing how many things bus stops don't tell you - like fares, route direction (on a map - place names are no use if you don't include all the intermediate stop names), whether the bus gives change or not (in Edinburgh they don't), whether you can buy a return ticket etc etc. I set out for the Leeds Wall not really knowing where I was going, but the 20ft sign on the building helped quite a bit.

Disappointing. It's the only word for it. The higher leading walls look fantastic. Hundreds of routes, steep and slabby, and all of a decent length. In complete contrast, I found the bouldering totally uninspiring. Most of it is steep, and if you're not into steep, or not strong enough for steep, you might as well just walk away. On the vertical sections I reckon 3 extra problems for each one there would easily have fitted into the space available. It sure wasn't easy to invent your own problems with so few holds on the wall. To compound this problem, the walls were just painted - with gloss paint it seemed - and smearing was just not an option.

The most disconcerting thing, though, was the chalked up, rubber-coated, dirty holds. It was sometimes impossible to tell what colour each was, and at most was a challenge to distinguish blue from purple from green. The problems looked as though they had been set in the Dark Ages and not moved since. They were slimy and greasy, no matter how much I scrubbed at them with my trusty little brush.

I got chatting to someone who looked like he might be "local", who told me that he tried hard not to train here; he had a board at home and would even go to Sheffield rather than come here. He also told me that the feet on most of the problems don't change; all the small green screw-ons are permanent fixtures, and any new problems just have to use those feet, no matter whether they are in the right or wrong place. It took me a while to identify the green ones....they all looked mucky black-grey, not green!

Having paid my £3 registration fee (for which I was given a nice new chalk ball - bonus!) and £7.50 for a session, I thought I would just rag my skin on stuff that was way too hard for me. I quit because my skin was sore, not because I'd managed to achieve anything. I made good use of the excellent shop there, though. - lots of ladies kit and a decent range of shoes. Having been told that Sharma's new Pontas shoes were only available from sizes 6-11 I was delighted to find them in my size there. They weren't right for me, but I wouldn't have known that without trying them on. Unfortunately, they didn't have the Heras, which I think are the replacements for my beloved Athenas.

I haven't been to the Climbing Works in Sheffield yet, but in the meantime, long live Alien Rock :-)

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