Ice climbing in Manchester

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Ice wall manchester

For my October challenge I wanted something relatively cheap and local. I searched the internet for ideas and found ice climbing in the centre of Manchester. Perfect!

I tweeted @vertchill from Vertical Chill Manchester to ask if me and my wife were okay to book bearing in mind we had little or no climbing experience never mind ice climbing. They quickly confirmed they catered for complete amateurs to experienced ice climbers so we booked an hour on Sunday 25th October.

The venue was an 8m indoor ice wall located in the bustling area of Deansgate in Manchester. To be precise it is at the back of an outdoors adventure shop called Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports.

Our slot was from 11.30. When we got there the staff showed us to the back of the shop and pointed out where we would be climbing. The instructor came out and we got suited up. All the equipment was provided, including the warm clothing, helmet, harnesses, boots, crampons and most importantly the ice axes! Laura’s purple outfit was pretty cool, but I looked a bit like a toddler on his first day out in the snow!

Laura Ice Climbing Outfit

Laura Ice Climbing Outfit

Gaz ice climbing outfit

Gaz ice climbing outfit

We were given a brief safety talk and then made our way into the minus 10oC room. From here our experience began and it was great. The instructor was excellent and showed us four different techniques to climb the two different sections of the wall. The first was to power the ice picks into the wall one at a time before kicking the crampons into the ice. For some reason your arse naturally wants to stick out while you do this, but once the crampons are in you are supposed to push your waist in and hold your weight using your legs. Laura was better at this than me and I spent most of the hour session with my butt sticking out!

Laura was a bit nervous so I climbed the wall first. I slammed the ice picks into the wall and navigated my way up. There were a couple of nervous moments when my crampons slipped (that isn’t a euphemism), but I managed to hang tough and stay attached to the wall. It was surprisingly hard and my arms were a tired by the time I got to the top.

Laura was up next. She was really worried about her lack of upper body strength. At first it looked like her trepidation was justified as she struggled to swing the ice pick into the wall. But the instructor was very positive and encouraging and once she got the hang of it she methodically ascended the wall as carefully as possible. Laura is a stickler for rules and so when the instructor told her the technique to use she used it precisely and perfectly. Where I used brute force to get up the wall, Laura used robotic functionality. My method to the top may have been quicker, but Laura’s was much more energy efficient and effective! She had a wobble three quarters of the way up, but following a bit of moral support managed to get to the top to her own surprise. I was proud.

I won’t go into detail of each technique used, but will say that we both successfully got to the top each time. It was physically very challenging and Laura had to really push through a couple of times when she was tempted to quit. She did herself proud and was on top of the world when we finished.

I would highly recommend this experience to anyone in the area that is looking for something different, fun and challenging to do. It is great value for money and you will get a real sense of satisfaction when you get to the top. And with the support of the friendly instructors you will get to the top.

Once we finished climbing Laura and I spent the day in Manchester. When it was time to go home, I was astonished how much the climbing had taken out of me physically. I had definitely worked muscles I wasn’t used to exercising as I struggled to take the handbrake off in my car. I had to use both hands!!!

Ice climbing Manchester

Ice climbing Manchester

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