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A Girl Who Climbs

A blog of bouldering

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Victoria Park Boulder | Widnes

When you have lived in the same town your whole life, I think it’s easy to become immune to what it has to offer. The artificial climbing feature has been in Victoria Park for years, and I always deemed it as something ‘just for kids’. However, since climbing has been in my life
I have started to see things in a whole new light. So after dinner last night, I went over to the park with A Boy Who Climbs to investigate the boulder. Naturally we had a little climb on it too!

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Firstly I was really surprised by how authentic it was, the texture is great and somewhere in between an indoor hold and real rock. As you can see from the pictures, this boulder has some great angles and is packed with pinches, crimps, jugs and a bunch of interesting details. It’s obvious a lot of time, knowledge and money has been put into this rock feature. There are so many climbs you can plot on this one boulder,  I’m planning on going back with my chalk bucket and climbing shoes at some point very soon. I can see this becoming a great venue to have a fun session on over the Summer.

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I was considering taking some more photos at some point to visually show any problems we end up making on it too. There are already some lines set which you can find here on the UK Climbing website if you’re interested.

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I think these boulders are becoming more common across parks now, and if there is one near you, you should definitely go and check it out. You might be pleasantly surprised by how good it is!

 

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Planning for the Outdoors

I am what some climbers would call a gym rat because I climb inside 98% of the time, and I’m okay with both of those things, but I would like to venture outside. Part of the reason I’ve not gone out is down to me being a newbie and feeling safer indoors, and some of it is down to me being uneducated on my surrounding outdoor area. We aren’t blessed with the most inspiring climate in the north west of England either, but there is still plenty of opportunity to climb some real rock and I want to start seizing it. I feel pretty lucky to have such easy access to Pex Hill as my local crag, and what better place to start for my first outdoor bouldering experience. I guess it could be considered a crime that I’ve not climbed here yet, in fact I hadn’t ever visited, so I recently ventured up there for a look around to get a feel for things. Afterwards, like all good bookworms I headed straight to the library internet and purchased ‘Cheshire & Merseyside Sandstone’. Teamed with some online research this has given me a good base to start understanding Pex Hill, which I shall share with you now.

 

The quarry has sandstone walls which were used for target practice in WW2, particularly Pisa wall. These bullet holes are now used as hands holds (more like pinky holds) , so needless to say climbing here will give you very good finger strength. It holds over 160 climbs of which 40 are boulder problems ranging from V0-V10. It seems to be the place to go for practicing crimping, endurance, finger strength, and nifty footwork. So basically everything, as there are plenty of traverses on offer too. As the walls are so high there seems to be a cross over between some boulder problems and routes, making them too long for one, or too short for another. This means the grading can be complicated but that doesn’t bother me personally. I feel getting caught up in grading and ticking off climbs isn’t always the best for my mental game, but I understand how it gets others motivated or psyched.

All that aside, plans are in the works and I’m excited to go grope some real rock, and experience climbing/bouldering as it was intended by nature. Just me and the rock…and my Anasazi boots…oh and a Mad Rock R3 crash pad, because safety should always come first.

I would very much appreciate any tips or real rock wisdom for bouldering outdoor for the first time! Please feel free to share.

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Be Boulder Indoor Climbing Centre | Climbing Gym Review

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (agirlwhoclimbs on both… shameless plug!) then you may notice that I tend to hang around the same climbing gym, as all my photos at the moment have the same holds and mats in the background! Haha. I chose this climbing centre as my first to review because this is where I very first discovered bouldering in all its glory. It only seemed right to start at the beginning.

Be Boulder Indoor Climbing Centre

Be BoulderIMG_2340 - Copy is an indoor bouldering gym found in Widnes, a small town close to Liverpool and Manchester in the UK. It only opened in 2013 around Christmas so it’s still fairly new.

Walls – 3/5
The walls are built by Entre Prises and look enticing with a little bit of everything e.g slab, cove, boulder. They have a sandy texture which is good for smearing and replicates some outdoor textures, but this also means it can wear the rubber down on your shoes. I personally feel that the space could have been used better, and it would have been nice to see a solid 45 degree wall or a cave/longer roof. However there is plenty to play on and try. Another aspect making this gym unique is that it has a top out boulder. This means you can actually climbing on top of the boulder like you would outside to finish a problem. You can work on your mantle and heel rock over for topping out, or my personal move is the salmon…I’m still practicing.

Problem Quality – 5/5
Despite being on the smaller side, Be Boulder does have a lot to offer in terms of the problems and the quality. Set by Alex Fry, this iIMG_2341s the place to climb if you want to get beastly strong. Currently using a tagging system, so any colour can be any grade, this allows the climbers to get a feel for holds they may never have tried before at their current climbing level. The grading is pretty good, although there are some higher graded problems that feel lower and vice versa, but arguably you’ll get that in most centres. As good as grading is to help gauge where you are, I wouldn’t stick to climbing that grade. If you see a problem you like the look of, no matter the level, just go and climb it and have fun.

Atmosphere – 5/5
The staff at Be Boulder are very welcoming and friendly, which makes for a relaxed atmosphere. This gym does seem to get quite a few parties/groups of minions kids in, and due to the size of the gym you may find yourself taking a longer rest than usual as they excitedly climb all over the walls. The gym staff will usual post on their Facebook page when the parties and groups are due in so you can plan your climbs in advance.

Amenities – 3/5IMG_2308
There is not climber specific training area (e.g. system board/campus rungs), but they do offer a gym area at the back with pull up bars, weights, foam roller etc. Also a beast maker, hanging board and climbing/swing rope are available, all of which is free to use if you’re climbing.

Climber fuel is readily available aka coffee and tea, as are a variety of snacks to keep your energy up, and plenty of sofas to plonk your tired bones down on. You’re very welcome to bring your own sandwiches and snacks.

All of the above is pretty cool, but what I love the most is that they have recently started selling Mad Rock gear! If you live in the UK and you’re a gear geek then you may understand my excitement. Mad Rock is so difficult to get hold of here, so having Sharks and a R3 crash mat on the door step is pretty awesome. Everything is available to buy or order on the website if you click here.

Conclusion
I have taken breaks from climbing here to climb at The Climbing Hangar in Liverpool, and The Boardroom in North Wales, yet I always find myself coming back. This is an awesome gem of a bouldering centre, and I like to think of Be Boulder as the small but mighty gym. I’m excited to see how it grows and develops, and would encourage you to make a trip to try it out. Don’t forget to check them out on all the social medias too – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook!

-A Girl Who Climbs

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