It’s my son’s birthday in a few days time and he tends to want to do something a bit different as a birthday treat. Last year, Alfie invited a couple of friends along to the Adventure Rope Course for an afternoon. That seemed to go down well, so he fancied a visit to an indoor climbing wall this time around. I’ve taken him to a few indoor walls in the past, but wanted to go somewhere new and memorable.
So this morning Alfie, his younger brother, Will and Ashley (two close friends) came with me to Awesome Walls in Liverpool. This is an old church building that has been converted for climbing and has an impressive range of climbs in terms of both style and difficulty. I have been delighted to see how busy it is on all my visits, no matter what time of the day or week. It’s fantastic to see climbing so popular.
After a guided tour around the church so that the boys could see what the place has to offer, we got stuck into some bouldering to warm up and get used to moving on the wall. We then headed into a quiet corner, where there are a number of short and relatively straight forward routes, to develop the skills of belaying and to gain some trust in the rope. We ended up by having a bit of a competition to see who could get to the top of a particular route using the least number of holds. Alfie set the pace with a great effort, using only 8 holds, which he thought would be good enough to secure victory. However, he’d underestimated the determination of his younger (and much shorter) brother, who battled his way up on 7 holds – very impressive!
We then headed onto the bigger walls, and it was great to see them all grow in confidence and even gain compliments from other climbers for their technique. After 3 hours of climbing, they were getting tired (not surprisingly!), and whilst 3 of them chose to call it a day, Ashley was determined to finish with one last blast. He had his eye on a long overhanging route. It was probably leant back by about 10 degrees, which may not sound like much, but puts a serious amount of extra strain on the fingers, forearms and stomach muscles. I was eager to point out that he shouldn’t expect to get very far, but Ashley surprised us all by making it to about 1m from the top. Not easy at any time, but all the more remarkable after 3 hours of climbing.
It was great to spend the time with the lads, and fantastic to see them all get stuck in, encourage each other and enjoy the challenge. I wonder what it’ll be next year.
Happy birthday Alf!