The Future For Climbing Looks Bright, and High!

beer-garden-silo-view-landscapeThe United Kingdom’s highest man-made outdoor climbing wall is set to open in Brighouse, West Yorkshire later this month. The climbing wall has been built up the side of an ex-industrial grain silo which has been derelict for many years.

The wall reaches heights of 118ft (36m) and has been designed to test the climbing skills of both amateur and professional climbers. The wall, named Roktface, has been designed by Team GB climber Luke Murphy, who is also a coach at Rokt climbing gym in Brighouse. The Olympic hopeful has plotted holes to be made into 28 unique climbing routes which will lead climbers higher than the Angel of the North and even the London Tower.

The project to build the Roktface has come from a partnership between Rokt climbing gym and the local council in Calderdale and at a cost of £75,000. The project is hoping to raise the profile of climbing as a sport and to also boost tourism in the area. The project launch has come in anticipation of climbing’s debut appearance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the sport was approved by the International Olympic Committee in 2016.

Nick Colton, BMC Deputy Chief Officer, said in 2016 that: “Climbing also represents the only basic human movement not yet included in the Olympic Games; it brings the missing vertical dimension to the world’s most prestigious sporting event.” The sport is to test Olympic athletes in 3 different climbing disciplines: lead, speed and bouldering.

  Luke Murphy, who helped design the climbing routes, is currently a member of team GB’s Olympic climbing team and has climbed at Rokt since its opening. Luke has cited Rokt as one of the biggest influences in his success in the sport which brings optimism about the effects that the new wall will have on climbers of the future.

The site in which the climbing facilities are located used to be the home of Thomas Sugden and Son flour mill and were rescued from demolition by Rokt owner Euan Noble. Younger Homes, a local development company, had acquired the land with hopes of transforming it into houses but their planning was cancelled in favour of plans to restore the historical buildings at the heart of Brighouse, which is roughly 12 miles from Leeds.

Rokt owner Euan Noble told the Daily Bulletin that “when we opened six years ago with the dream of opening a climbing centre that would be inclusive to all ages and abilities and Roktface in another huge step towards that goal.” The achievement is especially impressive as winter of 2016 saw the climbing gym severely damaged by the floods that devastated many parts of Yorkshire.

Rokt climbing centre hopes that this project will be big in both height and popularity across the nation. That looks to be very achievable as the team at Rokt claim they have already had hundreds of enquiries. Climbing in the UK can only benefit from a project like this and the 2020 GB Olympic climbing team have a new facility to practice their skills before Tokyo.

Tom Denham



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