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Zoom sur Londres : Rock climbing, the inclusive sport?

Written by on 2 mars 2020

Bonjour, je vous propose de rendre visite avec moi à Londres. À travers des mini-episodes, on vous illustre les multiples facettes de cette ville, ses lieux, son histoire, et ses habitants. Aujourd’hui, rendez-vous à Stronghold Climbing Centre, au nord de Londres.

Boom of Rock Climbing

In the last few years, the popularity of rock climbing has boomed – it is estimated that today 44.5 million people are climbing regularly across the globe.

This was a sport previously only accessible to those with a fair amount of cash and time to spare.

But with explosion of indoor centres, is climbing fast becoming one of the most inclusive sports out there?

Stronghold Climbing Centre

We visited Stronghold – a large indoor climbing centre set up three years ago in Tottenham Hale. Here, the team are trying to change climbing’s image.

Ryan is the centre manager at Stronghold:

One of the main things that I feel stops climbing making that last push into the mainstream is that it’s still seen as a sport that you’ve got to have a little bit of money to do. But hopefully places like Stronghold and lots of other walls that are popping up around London show that you can get climbing regardless of your social standing or background.

Tottenham Hale is one of the most diverse areas of London. It was previously an industrial hub, and there is currently a major regeneration program underway in the area.

Stronghold climbing centre is keen to foster strong links with the local community.

Ryan: One of the first things we did was reach out to the council and all the local schools. As you just saw, that was a ” Fit for Sport ” Haringey club that just came in. We offer a lot of inductions for local businesses in the area.

I believe Haringey council are very happy with what we’re doing. With all the regeneration that’s going into Tottenham, they want to make sure we’re a part of it.

Why is climbing so popular?

The growth of indoor climbing is happening across Europe. Germany is now home to more than 450 climbing gyms and there more than 350 gyms just in the Île de France. 

We asked climbers what it is they that like about the sport:

” I feel like people are really supportive at climbing walls, it’s a nice environment. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people at climbing walls “

” Me and my wife have been climbing for a couple of years. It’s a good fun day to come out with our son who’s two. It’s laid back, it’s relaxed, I think you can make clear progress – and also it’s cheap. “

” I think that little added adrenaline “

Traversing gender norms

Women make up a significant part of the global climbing population.

According to the International Federation of Sport Climbing, 39 percent of professional climbers are women – in most sports female athletes struggle to make up more than 30 %. 

At Stronghold, 40 % of their customers are female and they hope to continue increasing the number of women climbing by setting up female only climbing days with a local community centre. 

The only way is up…

Many hope that the introduction of rock climbing in the Olympics this summer will further increase the sport’s visibility and cement climbing as an inclusive and accessible sport for all. 

For now, Stronghold in Tottenham North London’s affordable prices and its sociable atmosphere seem to be working and drawing new climbers in.


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