Faster – Higher – Boulder

By Ben Cornwell

There are not many sports that make you feel like a superhero. However, there is one sport that debuted at the Olympics in Tokyo this year which may come close: indoor climbing. Seeing the athletes climbing up these walls in a matter of seconds with nothing but their chalk covered hands and climbing shoes was reminiscent of the children’s cartoon on TV of Spiderman scaling the side of buildings. The event combined three separate climbing disciplines: speed, lead (climbing with ropes) and bouldering (no ropes), and whilst many are probably aware of the physical nature of the sport, the mental aspect is often overlooked. After watching for a few seconds, it became abundantly clear that the athletes had already predetermined their route before they even touched the wall, highlighting how crucial their decision-making and planning can be. And you will be able to experience this sport for yourself in 2022, as a new indoor climbing gym will be opening in Hastings off Ivyhouse Lane.

CREDIT: Ben Cornwell

The Crimps Climbing Gym will be a bouldering-only gym, with designated areas for slab climbing as well as two free-standing boulders. Owner Peter Summers feels that this is something that many other centres do not offer. “With a lot of bouldering outdoors, the boulder is a physical, huge chunk of rock which you have to climb over and onto the top of, which is known as topping out. Most indoor centres do not have that; instead, you climb to a certain height and then climb back down.” He believes that the free-standing boulders will be beneficial for climbers wanting to emulate the experience of outdoor bouldering without needing to plan around the unpredictable British weather.

Peter has been climbing for over a decade and had discussed with friends in the past the idea of opening a climbing centre. However, it wasn’t until he came down to live in St Leonards for a year that he realised that there was a gap in the market. His chances of opening his centre grew stronger after a discussion with the owner of Stronghold, a climbing centre in North London where he had been climbing for many years. The owner informed Peter that they were relocating and were no longer in need of the walls in the current site – they were his if he wanted them. A generous offer, though he underestimated the physical toll of dismantling the giant chalk-coated structures, which took two weeks of strenuous labour.

More than just climbing

Peter’s main drive behind the centre is to “do something positive for the community”, giving people somewhere to go and enjoy themselves and maybe do a bit of climbing too – “a destination that you want to be at, somewhere that is more than just climbing,” he says. “I want to have street food stalls at the weekend. and DJs coming in, so that there is a good atmosphere in the centre and it can be a place for people to come to socialise as well.”

He believes Crimps will have the facilities to be able to provide climbing for people of all abilities and ages, and hopes to be able to interact with the local schools both in Hastings and the surrounding area so that climbing can become a part of the physical education curriculum. 

News of the plans of the climbing gym has already been well received within the local climbing community: members of the Hastings Rock and Fell Club can’t wait for it to open. One of them, Ruth Spiller, said “We are very pleased that this is coming to Hastings, as it is at least an hour drive to get to any climbing from here.  It will have bouldering walls, but we are hoping that in the future there will be higher sections where people can practice lead climbing as well. It will be good to have a place nearby where climbers can meet.”

Finances

The warehouse for the centre is scheduled to be built in January 2022 and Peter is hoping that they may be able to officially open around April 2022, as long as all the building and installation work runs smoothly.

However, the project still has a financial mountain to climb. It will not be cheap, and Peter is planning to share a link to a Crowdfunding site soon on his Facebook page, Crimps Climbing Gym, to ensure that his ambitions reach their summit.


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