We do like a new shiny climbing wall and this year Stronghold opened its doors.
So a few weeks ago we packed our shoes and chalk bags and headed off to N17 to check it out.
Down a side road from Tottenham Hale’s Shopping Centre this road of old warehouses at first doesn’t feel too inviting, but the building has a visually bold appearance, painted all black with it’s name stamped across the front .
The reception seems vast and may in time become sort kind of self-contained coffee shop or something else, but for now a few random chairs are all that are there.
We had registered online before attending and so just needed to collect yet another fob for the keyring and answer the standard safety questions. Then we headed inside.
First impressions are that it is as large as they say it is but it seems more open and spaced out, not filled as much as it could be. But it is very clean.
The changing area is a long, narrow, mixed room, lined with lockers and a bench down the centre. Most are small lockers and already there are a number of broken ones. There are two individual toilets and shower facilities and what seems to be a wardrobe, (well there is a coat hanger and an arrow painted on one wall, we didn’t check it out, so that is a curiosity).
Above the changing room is a small warm-up area with a great little traverse wall, which has a whole route of animal shaped holds, that appeal to the children and animal lovers alike!
Heading down into the main area after our warm-up we started on the main wall.
Now we aren’t climbing V8’s or the like but more V2 to V4’s and we both found out why the place so aptly named. Seriously the grading is off, that’s to say the routes seem to be more graded, V1, V5, V6… The V2-4 section seems either really easy or extremely hard.
We liked the arch area and the whole wall is a good height, something many of the new walls struggle with, but Stronghold has the height and uses it. Also the little boulders are a novel touch and are quite fun and easy in a room so clearly focused on hard and serious.
We were there early as we tend to be, so it was mostly empty, but the few people climbing weren’t terribly open or chatty either, isn’t the social aspect a big part of the climbing scene?
There was however a very friendly dog!
There is a gym area, but it looks like it’s been started and then forgotten about. There are a few weights, some mirrors, a pair of TRX straps hanging from an overhead RSJ and unfinished walls, It seems a waste of space, even if they have so much of it. They really need to do some work on this part.
Next to the gym is a short wood panelled traverse wall, which could be a good escape from the main area during those busy times of an evening.
There is an extensive Campus Board section.
Then opposite is a 45degree wall which is beyond us (unfortunately) and a steep circuit board with a ton of hold on it.
A couple of hours was all we could manage and we gave up having tried and mostly failed on most of the walls
The Coffee Shop is simple and could do with a bit more choice, the website shows pictures of cakes, fruits and sandwiches, but we didn’t find much choice when we left, but they do smoothies!
Bob: I really liked the space and the upstairs was awesome! Such cute little holds I almost didn’t want to hurt them. The routes didn’t seem all that varied with a lot of twists and balancing required. As we said above the levels seemed to go from very easy to hard with not a lot in between. It was ok overall but not one of the best that we have been to.
Ash: I liked the wall, it’s not too practical for us to get there so it will remain an occasional wall to visit, but would be a great if you live around the corner. Given the choice though, I’d pick Arch North if I was going to get the train to go to a wall. But in all it’s bright, clean . But it does seem to be really, really hard in the grades and the V2’s seem to all be the same style, the V3’s were reachy, V4’s Dynos, etc.