26 November 2012

A Stone's Throw Away

My original plan for Friday night was to go to a local pub with a fellow SE16 resident, but instead he suggested we go The Arch, a climbing wall and bouldering centre in our hood. The Arch used to be based near London Bridge, but I think the location had to be closed due to all of the building work and chaos that is going on in that area. This is fine by me, as the Biscuit Factory location is a lot closer.

Yay, I reached the top (of a very easy problem)

Some of my co-workers and a few of my school friends are big climbing geeks and it was always something I'd been interested in pursuing, but other than the odd rock-climbing and abseiling outings on residential activity weeks at school, I never quite found the time. After one session on Friday, though, I think I might have got the bug. There are a lot of different routes laid out on the walls within the centre, demarcated by different coloured hand-holds. We soon realised that we could do most of the "problems" on the black route (the easiest one), and some of the problems on the tiger route (the second easiest). There was one tiger problem we got stuck on for ages and eventually I worked out how I could do it, but by then my arms were a little weak and my right hand was pretty swollen from when I smacked it against the wall, so I admitted defeat. The floor is very soft and cushioned, so it's usually fine to jump down, even from the top.

This is hardcore: some of the "upside down routes"

For a while, we watched some of the more experienced climbers completing some of the trickier routes, including some of the upside down ones. We had a quick go, when not too many people were watching, but I wasn't very good. Although I do a lot of running, my upper-body strength is pretty poor, but if I start doing a little more bouldering, hopefully it will improve enough for me to do some of the more challenging problems. The Arch also does a series of drop-in classes for improvers, which I'm thinking of doing. The problems provide a bit of a mental challenge as well as a physical one: working out exactly which order you need to place each hand and foot on the holds and which way you need to orientate them in order to be able to reach the next stage. Much as I love running, this was a much more fun and sociable work-out, and I got a real buzz from completing some of the more difficult problems I attempted.

Stylish shoes and (not very obviously) injured hand

The Arch. The Biscuit Factory (accessed via the Drummond Road end of Clement's Road), London, SE16 4DG (Tube: Bermondsey). Admission is £10 at peak times and shoe hire is £3.

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