Bouldering and the Climbing Works

The Climbing Works is a bouldering wall and the second climbing wall nationally to recognised by the BMC (British Mountaineering Council) as a “National Performance Centre” (the first was also in Sheffield)[1]. The Climbings Work opened in 2006, and at the time was the largest bouldering wall in the world, it remains one of the largest. In 2013, the Climbing Works expanded opening the Mini Works on the other side of the Centenary Works, a dedicated space for children and beginners. In total there is currently a total of 1500m2 of climbing surfaces, which considering the walls are only 4.5m tall, is quite substantial. [2]

Bouldering differs from other forms of climbing in that the walls are low heights and ropes are not used, this makes it much more accessible than other forms of climbing, especially for beginners and small groups because you don’t need to have belayers, harnesses and ropes. (The height of bouldering walls is governed by an EU directive (Brexit affect TBA).) The only equipment needed for bouldering is a decent pair of shoes (which you can rent at the Works) and a little bit of chalk/tape if you’re looking to maximise your grip.

Bouldering has evolved from being used primarily by experienced climbers as training for hard routes on rock to being used by beginners and a lot of indoor only climbers as a discipline in it’s own right. Now many professional climbers will choose to specialise in a certain discipline like bouldering. [3]

Every year the Climbing Works hosts the CWIF or the Climbing Works International Festival. This is an internationally regarding competition, although doesn’t feature as part of the World Cup series, drawing in some of the sports biggest stars; including Shauna Coxsey MBE who is a regular competitor and winner of the female event and the number 1 ranked female boulderer in the world after winning the IFSC Bouldering World Cup this year.

“The Climbing Works International Festival took place last weekend. This competition has a big reputation and rightly so. It’s a gathering of motivated, passionate climbers who come together to have a good laugh at a great event. It’s an opportunity for climbers of all abilities from all over to try a selection of famously tricky boulders with the semi finals and finals taking place the next day. […] The social element at this event is undoubtedly one of the biggest draws for many people. It’s unparalleled in our country. However, I have to say I love competing at CWIF! The crowd is always motivated and psyched to cheer on every climber. Even when it’s glorious sunshine and perfect grit conditions outside the Climbing Works is full to the brim.” – Shauna Coxsey, on the 2016 “CWIF” [5]

In 2020, for the first time, Sport Climbing will be in the Olympics, raising the possibility of further increased participation and investment. In Tokyo, Climbing will feature as a combined sport of three disciplines; Bouldering, Lead and Speed. Climbing is a sport with a proud British and especially Sheffieldian history with climbers from around the world flocking to the Peak District and our purpose built walls. UK Sport and Team GB Olympic investment could help improve these even more, however the lack of possible medals (as a combined single sport) might hold back some of this investment. [4]


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