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For some, it’s a recreational activity, enjoyed every now again with family and friends. For most, it’s a fun, and rewarding way to keep mentally and physically fit. And, for a relative few it’s a way of life, focusing on performance, ‘pushing their grade’, the quest for adventure and exploration, and even competition.

One thing for sure, it’s a rare ‘lifetime participation sport’; a challenging and rewarding activity you can enjoy from a very young age right through to your 80’s and beyond.

People of all shapes and sizes enjoying climbing, It’s a fun, friendly and social atmosphere where people of ages and abilities can come together to climb side by side.

One of the great things about climbing is the way the walls are covered in coloured climbing holds, with each line of colours representing a certain level of difficulty. This means people who climb at different levels can climb together in the same area. It creates a really social environment where anyone, makes it fun and social, and because good climbing centres change (reset) their climbing holds regularly, there are always new challenges to take on.

Climbing is a full-body workout, think of it as bodyweight training, engaging your large muscle groups, core muscles and promoting strength, stamina and improving body tone

There’s also the mental work out, involving concentration, problem-solving and plenty of determination. It’s totally absorbing and, once you ‘pull-on’, you’ll find it a calming and focusing experience.

Indoor climbing can be enjoyed in isolation or become a gateway to a wider world. The history of climbing is filled with stories of adventure and exploration. and provides a view of the world enjoyed by only fraction of people who ever lived.

We are climbers!


*If you suffer from any pre-existing injury or medical condition, we’d recommend checking with your doctor before getting started.


Below is a list of questions we’d recommend everyone reads before coming to Highball. It’s easy to forget we once knew nothing about climbing so, we’re always listening to what new customers say and ask and regularly review the questions to keep them current and relevant.

What are the risks?

Climbing activities can be dangerous; they are enjoyed at height and therefore always carry a risk of a fall – which can cause serious injuries. If you choose to climb, you must accept these risks and, if you wish to climb independently, learn how to keep yourself safe and understand how to manage the risks – they can never be completely removed.

You must exercise self-preservation at all times.

How do the risks in climbing compare to other sports, for example, swimming?

The primary risk of swimming is drowning. The primary risk of climbing is falling (and hitting the floor). Both can result in injury or death. Both sports have evolved differently in terms of how they manage the risks.

When you go to a swimming pool, no one checks whether you can swim or not and no one asks you to sign a ‘waiver’; this is because trained lifeguards are on duty, supervising everyone and keeping them safe. Climbing Centres are not supervised environments* and therefore, only people with a minimum level of knowledge and experience (competence) can climb independently, without supervision.”

*Although most climbing centres offer supervised activities and courses with trained instructors.

What is ‘climbing’ and what is ‘bouldering’; is there a difference?

In its very basic form, climbing is the action of gaining height using hands and feet. When it comes to recreational climbing, the term ‘climbing’ covers a whole genre of activities and is generally assumed to mean using a rope and harness for safety, but not always. For example, bouldering is a form of climbing free from a rope or harness so, if you fall you hit the ground. But, it’s still climbing.

Here’s an example of how ‘climbing’ is used as the generic term for all forms of climbing activities:

Mike: Hey guys, what did you do at the weekend?

Tim: I went climbing

Tina: So did I.

Mike: Where did you go?

Tim: I just went bouldering down the gym

Tina: I went Ice Climbing in Norway.

Mike: Cool! I went to Wales and climbed Snowdon.

Note: Mike actually went hillwalking…

Can I just turn up and climb?

If you are an adult with previous experience and a good level of knowledge of how to keep yourself safe when climbing, you can turn up, register and climb without supervision.

If you have limited or no experience or, are aged under 18, you will need to be supervised by an instructor or, a ‘competent’ adult.

To keep things simple, for the rest of this article we’ll refer to the first group of people as ‘competent’, and the second group as beginners (regardless of age). The term ‘climber’ or ‘climbing’ refers to all climbing activities.

Do I have to book?

If you are a competent climber you can just turn up, register, and climb. If you are a beginner and don’t know someone who can supervise you, you will need to book a supervised activity or course.

I’m not a good climber, does that mean I’m not competent?

Competence isn’t related to your climbing ability. Competence is about understanding how to use the equipment correctly, understanding the risks and how to manage them, and being able to demonstrate safe practice.

How do I know if I’m experienced enough (competent) to climb without supervision?

If you are asking this question, you’re probably not, but here’s a few things to consider – the more yes’s, the better:

Is climbing something you do regularly, is it your hobby, and do you refer to yourself as a climber?

Are you registered as a competent climber or boulderer with at least one other indoor climbing centre?

Are you an active climber and do climb regularly, at least once or twice a month?

Have you previously attended a structured course delivered by a trained professional?

Do you have your own equipment, for example*:

Bouldering: Do you own your own climbing shoes and chalk bag/brush?

Climbing: Do you own your own climbing harness, belay device and know how to use them correctly 

*Just going out buying new equipment doesn’t make you competent but, if you’ve bought some and are using it regularly, it’s a sign you are ‘into it’.

Who can supervise beginners?

Only competent adult climbers can supervise beginners. This could be a trained highball instructor on a pre-booked session or, by a friend/family member who has completed registration.  All instructors are trained and can, therefore, manage small groups of people. Independent climbers can only supervise up to 2 guests. 

Read more on supervising guests here. 

Can I supervise my children?

See above. If you are aged 18+ and are a competent climber, you can supervise guests, including your children. We have specific ratios and more information on supervising guests here. 

Do I need any equipment?

If you book a pre-booked instructed/coached session or course, all equipment is provided. We also have equipment available to hire if you don’t have your own.