Sunday, February 26, 2012

Monkey Reviews RedPoint Climbing Centre (part 1)

Oh right... it's lower 'p'...
Today I'm going to break away from the norm. I'm going to write a review about RedPoint Climbing Centre. No jokes, no unrelated pictures - hopefully just concised views about this little place.

Yeah right...!

First Impressions
"Holy shit, there's an upside down pyramid hanging down from the ceiling!" was my first impression.

Stalactites - Perfect for arse gazers.
Although if my vocabulary were stronger, it might have been:

"I say, there appears to be an artificial stalactite suspended from planchement of this establishment."
Well fuck you and your monocle, sophisticated me! Nobody says 'planchement'.
Now there's no getting around it, Redpoint is a small place when compared to other climbing centres. Yet it's this very aspect of Redpoint that makes it shine. It's kinda like David and Goliath; or Darren, with his small dong - but does amazing things with it in bed.

The owners (and everyone who helped design the place) really showed off their imagination when building this place. Redpoint is not just a climbing gym with some walls in it that you can climb on, Redpoint is an organic place that you're supposed to climb in.

... We'll get into the organic part later.

The Staff
Obviously, I'm obliged to suck up to the staff here (or they might spike my tea). But the truth is, they're all a bunch of douche bags.

Just look at them and their stupid fleeces.
... I'm just kidding. Please don't spike my tea.

The Redpoint staff kinda feels like one big family, and they welcome you into it - kinda like how Auntie Shirley does every time you visit - except they don't bake you pies and don't have a sleazebag husband.

Also, I suspect all staff had to take some sort of memory test before getting a job, because they're always remembering people's names.

Good job Rumpelstiltskin is too short to get into rock climbing.
I guess this is all part of Redpoint's philosophy - treat you like a mate so that you want to come back. They laugh at your bad jokes; make you do push ups by playing stupid games with you; and are never afraid to dish out banters to make you feel like a buddy. And despite what amazing climbers they are, they never tell you how easy a route is if you get stuck.

The knowledge and experience in the team is truly amazing, and if you engage them, you'll hear endless tips, advice and stories to keep you entertained. Elitism either doesn't exist with this bunch of guys, or they're very good at hiding it.

The Walls
Like I said, Redpoint is not a big place, in both floor space and height. You've got your main walls downstairs that covers approximately the space of a basketball court. (don't quote me on that)

To fully appreciate the downstairs area you only really need to look up and be dazzled by all the arches, roofs and bridges connecting all the walls together. At Redpoint, walls aren't static up and down affairs, they're 3 dimensional problems that challenges your skills and imagination.

Up and down affairs should be saved for the bedroom, here we climb left right and upwards.
I called Redpoint An Organic Place. To explain this, allow me to present you with two video clips.

June 2011

 August 2011

Same route right? Notice something unusual?

Worst game of Spot the Difference ever!
Holy Batshit! Not contented to resetting routes on a regular basis, they actually removed a freaking natural stalactite and built a new one on the bridge later on!

(Don't worry, the natural stalactite eventually found a home upstairs in the smaller top rope area, so happy ending was had by everyone.)

The story doesn't end there either. Redpoint, never satisfied with resting on their laurels (thank you Kat for teaching me this phrase), had seen not only superficial wall surface changes, but structural ones as well over its four year lifespan so far:
  • The old boulder cave got converted into an entirely new sustained steep lead wall.
  • The upstairs boulder area was transformed into a shorter top rope area with a combination of beginner level to down right hardcore routes to test your skills.
  • The tallest top rope wall was extended to provide 2 additional challenging panels.
  • Another beginner area with slabs has been extended to almost double in height.
It's a good job Redpoint is contained within the confines of the warehouse by some ancient spell, otherwise it'd probably grow outwards and cover Birmingham with holds in a couple of years.

I said it like it's a bad thing...
The Routes
I'm not going to lie, Redpoint's routes are notorious for their difficulty. All the negative feedback I've heard from people are about the grades:

"I usually climb 6b's but can't even do the 5+s in there!"

Well... instead of patronising you with easy grades, Redpoint really sets the bar for challenging routes.

The philosophy of Redpoint is, "If you can do a grade competently here, you'll have no problem tackling the same grades outdoors." Never the other way around.

But I crush 6b's for breakfast!
Now, there're plenty of people who'd debate about the pros and cons of harder grades. I'm going to ignore that and talk about the quality of the routes instead.

Here's another Redpoint philosophy for you "Climbing is about using everything available to you -  if you can reach it, it's on." Climbing is about problem solving, it's about being clever with what's available to you and making your ascent.

This apparently has stumped people who're only familiar with holds only climbing walls. You've gotta open your minds, man. See that arĂȘte? Why aren't you using that? Notice that little bump on the wall? It's called feature, dude. Get your hands off that quick draw! Quick draws are not on!

Unless you're a gunslinger.
And then, of course, there's the style of the routes.

I'm working off limited experience here, but most of the routes at Redpoint are of very different styles in nature, even if two routes were set by the same person.

There's no getting around it - we all have our own style of climbing based on various factors, as such that some routes are always going to be easier for us than other people. This no doubt influences route setters as well, when you noticed more dynamic routes; or routes favouring high rock-overs; or simply very crimpy powerful routes etc.

Redpoint is definitely not short on such variety, and this in turns means one thing:

You can still get stuck on a route that's beneath your 'normal grade'. All it takes is one tricky crux move that you can't read, and you'd have to rethink your game plan.

It makes you think more, mature more as a climber so that you climb smarter, and it's certainly not a bad thing...

Well this has run on for longer than I expected, and we haven't even talked about the boulder rooms, the instructions, the cleaniness and the cakes etc.!

I'll be back for more, next time...

Monkey goes review Wonderbras now (They don't Fit! 1/10)

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