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A Deeper Look at Clip ‘N’ Climb in the UK


Several weeks ago, whilst browsing through the various “Be Like Bob” posts of Facebook I came across the below video advertising a new activity centre called Clip n’ Climb, that had opened nearby. As an avid rock climber this was something that I just had to check out!

Clip n’ climb was first established in New Zealand in 2006 and since then, 50 centres have popped up all over the world including several in the UK. Clip n’ climb aim to deliver ‘healthy challenging fun’ and this is certainly what I got when I, along with 9 friends, visited their new centre based in Cramlington, Newcastle­upon­Tyne.

A prebooked session at Clip n’ climb costs £15 per person and for this you get a 15 minute safety demonstration/induction followed by an hours climbing in ‘the arena’. Clip n’ climb differs from a normal rock climbing gym as to get from the bottom to the top, you use a variety of different climbing apparatus in a variety of ways. The 15 minute introduction takes you through how to correctly fit a harness and how to use auto belays. An auto belay is effectively a big seatbelt. You clip it onto your harness with the help of a clip n’ climb employee at the start of your climb and then you’re ready to go. If you fall, the auto belay catches you and lets you down gently. It’s quite scary at first but after a few falls you begin to trust that it works!

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 16.26.29
Image by Piet Vermeulen

There are between 15 and 20 climbing walls at clip ‘n climb and each wall is unique. The first wall I climbed was a giant wall of velcro which required me to fit velcro pads to my hands to enable me to climb it. The second wall consisted of some climbing holds mixed with pieces of wood and what can only be described as silver dog bowls. Another route wasn’t really a climbing wall as such, it was more of a balancing challenge where I was required to step up and onto increasingly higher and farther apart wooden poles.

One of the more interesting walls was designed to mimic an ice climb which you had to climb using two hand held pegs that fitted into each hand hold. There were also some speed based walls which is where we spent most of our time towards the end of the session. You needed to hit a button to start a timer and there was another button to end the timer at the top of the wall. Trying to better your own time and beat friends was great fun!

Image by J. Michel (aka: Mitch) Carriere
Image by J. Michel (aka: Mitch) Carriere

As an added challenge each wall has three different difficulties. You can choose to climb an easy, medium or hard variation which differs from wall to wall. For example, the harder variations may only let you climb certain colours, or for the velco wall there were a limited number of areas to place your hands.

We all thoroughly enjoyed the hour we had climbing and it made a big change to the normal rock climbing that my friends and I are used to. It was good value for money and the staff were great. As experienced climbers we did find some of the routes easy but this just resulted in us making up and completing our own challenges, several of which the staff hadn’t thought possible!

The big disadvantage Clip ‘n climb has is that it is not easy for them to modify routes, everything is very much set in stone. This means that once you’ve completed  everything there isn’t really anything to go back for. Saying that, I’d definitely recommend checking out your local Clip n’ Climb Centre. There really is something for all age groups and abilities!

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