for those who love the outdoors

28 September, 2023


Climbing for the first time at Parthian, Wandsworth

I recently visited the recently opened Parthian Climbing Centre in Wandsworth to try out their world class climbing experience. Having not climbed for over 15 years, this is my review of how it went...

Parthian Climbing Wandsworth

A climbing novice

The last time I properly scaled a climbing wall was likely in my primary school days on one of those classic adventure school trips.

But here I was, about to step foot into the brand new Parthian Climbing Centre in the heart of Wandsworth. The centre, which opened in July 2023, is an incredible multi-functional and active space. Intended to attract new climbers, experienced climbers, and everyone in-between.

The Wandsworth centre is the newest edition which joins 4 other centres around the country. The centres all focus around providing a quality experience to all who come to visit the facilities. It is much more of a leisure centre feel rather than just a climbing centre.

Fortunately, I was not climbing on my own. My colleague, Alex is a far more experienced climber and I was very much hoping for him to show the ropes (pun very much intended).

Alex wasn’t the only one supporting me through this new adventure. The team at the Parthian Climbing centre were on hand to provide a special introductory session.

Whilst I was going through the health and safety session with the session leader, I was very much hoping my strength training was going to stand me in good stead.

I love trying new things. Alex has always been encouraging me to give climbing a go. I knew the basics, what bouldering is, how it differs from rock climbing, and how the popularity of climbing has climbed massively. Especially since the introduction of sports climbing into the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.

Step one was to get secured in my harness, at the same time as being spoken through a brief history of Parthian climbing by the team.

Parthian climbing is the brainchild of John Dunne, an internationally renowned climber who has established many world-class routes over the last 25 years, Parthian Climbing’s brand mission is to offer, and make accessible and fun, climbing for everyone; building a community that inspires and grows the next generation of climbers.

I was fortunate enough to interview John the morning before heading over to Parthian Wandsworth, his top tip... 'don't let go'. Unsurprisingly, this didn't do much for my confidence. But it definitely is the best advice!

Before stepping onto the climbing floor, we were fortunate to be given a tour around the site which included a cafe and shop, multiple walls, a gym and a community of climbers of all abilities.

When walking through the gym it was clear to see the strength of experienced climbers who were completing bodyweight workouts. I think I have a little while to go before I test myself with that. For now, I am happy falling into the beginner category.

Climbing at Parthian Climbing

Trying out the training areas

We started with a simple 9 metre wall. From speaking to John Dunne and Pete Whittaker, I knew that a range of different climbs had different gradings based on their difficulty. Of course, I was starting off on a beginner grading.

I watched as Alex flew up the first climb. His experience was no match for the climb that is clearly intended for kids.

Next up, me. I pull on the rope to make sure I am secure and start to head up the climb. Since this route was definitely a kid’s route, I was able to glide up the climb with a decent level of comfort. Not too challenging at this point.

To get down, a simple abseil holding onto the rope does the trick.

The helpful instructor stepped us up a few levels as he knew that we had more ability than the kids route.

Once again, alex flies up the more intermediate route with little to no trouble. I'm up next. Again, a little tug on the rope to make sure I’m secure (safety first), and up I go. The instructor is helpfully guiding me up the best route and advising my technique on the way up.

Whilst this was slight information overload, it was interesting and helpful to know the subtle difference to help my ascent and not to wear myself up. Up to the top I get, hold onto the rope, and abseil down. This is easy, at this point my confidence is sky high after swooping up there 9 metre walls...

...Until the next grading. This time the instructor is really challenging us. As if by clockwork, Alex speeds up the climb leaving me little to no time to recover.

This time I use some chalk and begin to head up the harder route. It's all going well until my beginner level starts to show. There is one section I simply can't seem to crack. After a few goes, the novice gives in and I fall to the floor.

There was little time to dissect the climb before we head onto the self-climbing section. In this area the safety ropes are intended to be used by one person instead of having a traditional set-up of having one person managing the rope from the bottom.

This was one of the things that really surprised me about the climbing centre. I presumed, in a similar way to rock climbing outside. There would be one group working their way round with strict organisation and order. Unlike my perception of rock climbing, this gym sort of... behaved like a gym.

Individuals could come and go as they please, roam around, and tackle specific climbs as they please. If you have completed all of the safety briefings you are good to go.

Climbing for the first time

Appreciating the art form

After floating around and trying out a few different climbs, it was time to cool down and head off.

Not that I have been able to visit many different climbing centres, but I cannot imagine many better locations than this new centre.

I certainly have a newfound respect to the fitness and strength required for climbing. If you are wondering how tiring it was, I slept like a baby that night and woke up the next morning with sore muscles.

But it was worth it. This is a sport which is accessible for all ages and abilities. The instructors were on hand to support Alex and I through our adventure and the environment was welcoming of newcomers. No judgement whatsoever.

Even if you are a group of beginners looking for something new to try, I certainly recommend testing your skills and fitness in the world of climbing. Whilst I still consider myself to be in the beginners category, I feel a lot more confident in tackling the sport next time I head to Wandsworth.

You can find out more information on the website but there are specific courses available depending on your skills.

Climbing is one of those sports I have always wanted to try but have never got round to. Rock climbing seemed out of my reach for now, but an indoor climbing centre was definitely within the realms of possibility.

To find out more about the Parthian Climbing centres closest to you, then you can visit their website by clicking here.

At Outside & Active we have a specific climbing section which you can go and explore by clicking here.

The Titan Parthian Climbing Wandsworth

Dominic Brown

O A IG 2023 04 04 T152111 566

Hi! I'm Dom and I am the Digital Communications Manager at Outside & Active. I manage the content and marketing for this site and sometimes document my experiences and thoughts. I absolutely love to be outside and active in any way possible.

I have been playing all varieties of sports since the age of 5 but in the past few years I have somehow become a 'runner'. This has opened my eyes to a whole new world of adventure, I still love playing team sports and heading to the gym - but managing this website has helped me explore different ways to enjoy the outdoors.

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