Sunday 23 June 2013

Blackpool Tower....and ice axes!

It's been quite  while since I wrote on this blog, sorry!
The events at The Works in the Lakes have pretty much left me speechless and I don't feel like I want to get involved in commenting on them. I'll restrict my comments to being disappointed and angered by what happened but strangely buoyed by the response and the speed with which everything was repaired and put back into action.
Since finishing the World Cup circuit my focus has been on getting better for next season, I know it may seem like a long way away, but it's never too early to start. My training has been a long-term focus, so rather than just climbing I've been doing other sessions. At the gym, on my bike, down the local park and in the 'torture chamber' that is the garage of friend and massage therapist Tim Budd. Tim has written me a plan for sessions that involve kettle bells, a slosh pipe, pull-ups, planks, squats, name it, he seems to have it in there. He was caught researching on the internet whilst chuckling and saying things like.."Oooo, Andy's going to kill me.."
So far he's still breathing, but I can't guarantee that'll last forever!
However, the biggest obstacle to training for the Ice World Cup is having a suitable structure to train on. there are a few climbing walls who have trialled a dry-tooling area in the past, sometimes as a permanent area, sometimes as a time restricted area, which is great. But usually the sort of routes set or terrain used is not very similar to what happens at the World Cup - so it's a great facility for people wanting to try the sport but not much good for training for the events.
So, I decided that I needed to make it my mission to try and rectify the situation. There were several ideas buzzing round my head, the smallest of which was to try and persuade a local wall to give up and area that was more suitable, right through to trying to get funding to build a purpose built structure to my own specification. After some research and asking some questions a potential option came up.....The Blackpool Tower!

No, not that one not sure getting permission to swing around on axes would be easy to come by! But there are some free standing tower structures that were built by BNFL as some kind of art to welcome people to Blackpool and later were acquired by the council and the leisure centre to turn into a climbing wall. I knew that dry-tooling had previously happened there and with a bit of help from the BMC I went along to meet the managers of the facility to put an idea to them.
Access for dry-toolers at specified times......but rather than the usual first thing on a weekday morning slot, how about a weekend day and an evening.
The folk at the Towers were brilliant - and were super keen to get involved. The towers are outdoors and with the British summer being what it is they don't get all that much use, so for them to get some traffic and activity was something they were really excited about.
This was the initial meeting and sounding really positive - the second trip I had up to talk was even better. I talked about setting routes and the possibility of having plywood pieces fixed onto the structure to get people used to kicking into it......."No problem" they said. How about getting to use  the wall on a Saturday? "OK" they said.
I couldn't believe it! OK it's not exactly in my back yard, but it is closer than driving to The Works, and it's more like the actual competition routes - 22m long and 30 degrees overhanging. This could be the perfect training venue to get in the zone for World Cup climbing.
I headed up at the weekend and got started on some routes, 2 up so far but plenty of space to set some more - the only limit is the enthusiasm and commitment of myself and other climbers.
What needs to happen is that people make use of the facility now that it's available and repay the trust that has been extended by the people at Blackpool Council. I'd like to say a MASSIVE thank you to them, to James Mitchell who has donated a big pile of holds (more are welcome...), to Matt Pritchard who came up to help the setting begin and the BMC for getting me in to see the Council people in the first place.

So people - please make use of this facility - on Saturday's from 10:30-4:30pm and Wednesday evenings 6-9pm.
It's 10 minutes from the M55 and easily accessible.
Other times may be available but we need to get enough people together to make it worth while them opening up for us.
Information and directions are on this website

1 comment:

climbingamerica said...

Thanks Andy for sharing on this wonderful information with us, I truly appreciate it.

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