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After my microadventure on the Ethos Climbing Wall at Imperial College London, I decided to take rock climbing to the next level and headed over to The Arch Climbing Wall in South London for some no strings attached clean fun!
The Arch offers adventure-seeking Londoners a series of varied climbing walls without ropes. As a result, the walls are shorter than at other venues with ropes and there are crash mats everywhere. With over 11 000 square feet of bouldering, dozens of circuits offering hundreds of climbs, The Arch is one of the largest climbing facilities in the UK.
Once I was on the wall at The Arch, I had a strong urge to keep climbing, as I’m sure many people do, so it’s a good thing that the walls are short! Climbing without ropes is really rewarding, there’s a greater sense of what your body can achieve versus climbing with ropes. While you still need to climb to the top of tall walls when you have rope, I feel that in the back of your mind, you are always aware of that rope, which is a big safety net. There is not as much room for error on the walls without ropes, if you fall there’s a safety mat but you could still do some serious injury.
I really enjoyed all of the different climbing challenges available at The Arch, from walls that protrude, walls with corners, walls with really spaced out holds and walls which are simply difficult to navigate. I had moments where I climbed straight up the walls and others where my arms were literally supporting all of my body weight and I couldn’t work out my next move.
The Arch has walls for various levels of expertise, as well as, training walls / areas (campus rungs, fingerboards, endurance wall) and a competition wall with 30 unique boulder problems of different difficulties. One of the benefits of climbing without ropes is that you don’t necessarily need to go with a friend, so going alone for some ‘me time’ is easy to do. All the climbs at The Arch are set by a mix of the experienced resident route setters and guest setters from around the world.
Next on my to-do list is to scale some real rocks – I’ve heard that Fontainebleau just outside of Paris is good 😄