Climbing is one of those things I’d always fancied having a go at, but had just never got round to it. When I told this to my husband, he nearly choked on his cup of tea. I mean, I’m not exactly Little Miss Sporty, though I do love a good run (when I have the time and the energy) and getting out there in the fresh air for bracing walks by the beach. But climbing? He hadn’t put me down for that. We’d heard of a few people taking their kids to indoor climbing centres and it looked like fun, and the fact that each child needs an adult to go with them meant I had the perfect excuse to give it a go.
We booked an induction at The Climbing Hangar in Liverpool through a daily deals website, and got the sessions and shoe hire for a bargainous £7 for two people. When we got there, it was effectively a warehouse decked out with climbing walls in four separate rooms, each with thick crash mats to cushion the inevitable falls and walls to suit varying levels of ability. With trance music playing in the background, metal staircases between each floor, and fairly young people walking round in cool sportswear and looking ever so slightly sweaty, it reminded me of the chill-out rooms I’d hung out in at some 1990s raves. This was not a bad thing. Quite the opposite – if climbing has this kind of calming, chilled effect on you, then why aren’t more people doing it? I waited for my induction to start to find out.
Once my five-year-old son and I had changed into our climbing shoes, we followed a group of about 10 people round with an instructor for a few basic safety lessons. Basically, if someone falls off a wall on to you, you’ve had it, so look around you and get up quickly! My boy, who as he is five knows everything there is to know about everything, declared he didn’t need a lesson as he had done it before, at school, but joined in reluctantly anyway. After the talking part was over, we were free to get climbing, so we naturally headed to the kids’ area. This was a smallish room decorated like a castle, with climbing walls up to turreted walkways and a slide coming down one side. In the centre stood a wooden pirate ship, again with footholds to climb up and a smaller slide to get down. My son quickly realised that climbing was maybe a bit too risky for him, and figured out a way of getting up high without actually having to use the walls! Still, he was having a ball and I got to practise a bit of climbing too. It was so much fun, I can definitely see it’s something you’d get hooked on, and would like to go back and maybe give it a bit more of a serious go in the more grown up areas of the centre. For now though, the pirate ship it was, and that was still enough of a challenge for an absolute beginner like me.
As for my son, well, he managed some pretty good climbs in the end. The trick is, hide a lollipop at the top of the wall and he was scurrying up there like his life depended on it. A bit of a cheat, but it worked! We will be going back – we bought a special ticket which meant we could go back three more times for just a fiver. Just remind me to save some money for Chupa Chups.
The Climbing Hangar can be found in Birchall Street, Liverpool.