Given the success of our last climbing wall review’s we thought we should really review our home wall. Although we have only just started exploring other walls (her more than him) This is the one we always seem to go back to and know the most about. Again, Please remember that what we write is just opinions and not the same for everyone.
So without further ado, on with the review…
The climbing wall is situated between Victoria Park and Mile End Station right next to The Regents Canal and a lot of new housing developments. Its a short walk from Mile End Underground or there are a number of Buses that stop by the park, which you have to cut through to get there, there are also bike rails for those who have a lot of energy (Her: which currently I lack).
A problem that does seem relevant is the lack of signs or directions, although if you have visited the website you will have a good description of where to go.
When you do find the center, to the right of the entrance there is a small shop called Rock On where you can buy all manner of things (Chalk, Shoes, Rucksacks, Sleeping bags and Clothes etc) There is always a member of staff ready to help. There is also a few benches and tables for when the weather is nicer to sit outside and have a coffee.
Upon entering you will have to walk through a lounge area, where you can sit and have a chat etc.
On the Left there is the reception/cafe of sorts, where you can get tea, coffee, soft drinks and energy bars as well as entry. Then to your right are the lockers, changing rooms, toilets and the Monkey House, A small room that is all overhanging and a roof.
Opposite the counter there is the Peggy Day wall, An Endless Traverse wall and a steep panel wall to warm up on, there are also mats to stretch on.
Beyond all of this there is the main areas, there are so many different parts to tell you about. We will try and tell you each part in turn, starting with The Lead Wall and Top Roping Wall.
There is a mass of routes of varying grades for leading and top roping alike, there are also self belays for those who don’t have a friend with you at the time. With in-situ ropes for the top roping and quick draws for the lead walls. There are verticals and overhangs.
After the roping area you go through a hallway and come to The Board Room, a small serious room for the more advanced climbers.
The second room along the corridor is the Beginner’s Room, Another small room but this time with lots of big holds and no graded routes (Her: This is still one of my favorite parts plus its heated!)
Ok back to Main room.
The first section is the Playground/Red Slab which is the first graded section plus one of the original walls that has still been kept alongside some new angled walls.
The main room’s main area has a lot of climbing, ranging from roofs to slabs, these used to be a lot higher, but recently have been lowered, so that the Tower in the centre no longer tops out.
The Competition wall is a favorite with many climbers and gets busy at peak times.
There are plenty of graded route all around this area and range from VB and V0’s to V8s.
There is even a cute little cave area, with a mini roof and short technical problems.
Routes are changed every 2-3 weeks so you have plenty of time to finish that problem (Her: No you don’t!)
Once you have exhausted every problem in the main room there is a secret door (Shhh! it’s behind the wave, but don’t tell anyone we told you!) That leads to the Secret Garden, a covered outside space, lovely on a summer evening and perfect for the trad climbers itching to get out on real rock and freeze to death in the winter!
With a boulder and lots more routes.
So there you go an extensive guide to Mile End Wall, but what do we think of it all?
Her: This was my first wall that I ever went to, so I don’t really have a lot of comparisons to judge it by, but that said every single visit has new things to catch your eye, such as the blackboard behind the counter, that always has a quote, a silly pun or a puzzle to think about while you climb and the notices in the bathroom are fun to read too.Pray that ‘Lip Ring Dude’ serves you, because he always gets the price right (unlike some!) and you know that for the rest of the climb there will be Drum & Bass playing – which is so much better than some of the more recent musical choices we have had to suffer.Any on to the actual climbing; I still have problems with heights (but I’m better than I was when I started), some of the walls do go quite high (for me anyway), but I’m sure I’ll get past that in time.OK I’ll start with the Pros;There are so many different rooms and parts to the whole place, that if you can’t climb in one then you can move to another part.The staff and the atmosphere of clientele are quite friendly and chilled, there is usually a funny conversation taking place in the café that seems to involve everyone around.There are different ways to challenge yourself here, whether it’s getting over the top of the Red Slab, or doing 2 circuits of the traverse, making it right around the Monkey House or simply doing a green route for the first time.There is always the option of bouldering or top roping/leading.There is a tour that you have to take on your first visit this is is a great idea, it points out every section, makes you aware of the safety issues and it helps a beginner to understand the grading of climbs and lots of climbing references and terms.And if all gets too overwhelming – run to the Beginner’s Room!And now the Cons;I hate children which is not helped with the fact that if you climb during the off peak hours you are going to be swamped in school parties and mother/children groups, who take over the wall and stop you climbing.Also during the day, the Secret Garden tends to be off limits due to constant Rope Access courses, with people hanging around on ropes stopping you climbing there.And then there are the route setters, who we know have to change the routes but often during the day cordon off sections and stop you climbing there too. So if the Rope Access, School group and Route Setting is all going on at once you have nowhere to climb!OK I’m color blind (to the red end of the spectrum) See below.Everything on this wall with the exception of the Yellow/Black and Purple holds are aaaaallll the same color to me, which means that when trying to climb any of these routes I need a pointer to guide me up the wall.And some of the routes are way off grade, I know everyone says that but really they are.
Him: (I’m now in purple :D) I used to climb here a lot in the past, before I quit, but when I started again it was my first port of call and though a lot had changed in 7 years a lot had stayed the same. The atmosphere was still light hearted and fun, the climbing was still varied and extensive and there were plenty of new things to try.I was sad to see that many of the climbs had been reduced in height and you could no longer top out of the Tower or the wave. Not that I am up to that standard any longer! Also it‘s an old building and not the cleanest in the world, but that just adds to the atmosphere.So whats good about the place?I like the size, there are so many rooms, parts and quirky little places to search out, the traverse wall by the reception is great for stamina training, you can go round and round and round… As you could do in the Monkey House, if only I still could.The board room is hard work and where the serious business takes place. But it’s the clientele that really make a place and Mile End has such a relaxed fun atmosphere that it rubs off, everyone talks to you and helps you with problems, unlike some other walls that I’ve been to. The down sides are;Well the off peak School Parties and blocked off areas (as mentioned by Her) are annoying and I feel that there should be a notice at reception telling you of the restrictions before you pay to enter.Also there are often people not aware of the safety issues and you can often find people leaning on the wall under a person climbing. This is not a fault of the wall or staff it’s just people don’t listen to the safety talk on the tour (that they have to take upon their first visit).The café is a real let down, in my opinion they should move it to the lounge area (maybe knock a hole in the wall) and make it more spacious, with tables and chairs and actual food, rather than just snack bars and mugs of coffee.They really need some more guest route setters, they graded routes are very samey and if you’re not 9ft tall or incredibly flexible, you can tell who set what because the moves are the same every time.
So that’s what we think.What do you think of Mile End Climbing Wall?