I believe, correct me if I’m wrong, that Rock Star Climbing is the only dedicated climbing wall in Swindon. I have looked in Swindon as a location on route to my sisters before but hadnt come across them as they have only been open for a year and a bit. Like all walls they’re a bugger to find, hidden away on industrial estates. Actually the directions on the website are very clear and Google maps takes you straight there, but I tried to go on Monday when I was still phone free and ended up lost in the arse end of Swindon – not fun.. I made it on Wednesday without major issues, just the usual ‘is it this block or is that a lorry park’ concerns.
The first thing for me was that it felt like a bouldering wall, but bigger (and with ropes). A really good open space with a clean but welcoming entrance (with comfy seats!). A similar style to Chimera or Building One, but more spacious and taller.
The induction was (unusually compared to some walls I’ve been to) an actual proper walk round with site specific safety advice. I particularly liked the ‘please take care if you do use the fire door as: the door is lower than the floor due to matting, please don’t face plant the fire sign’ (I paraphrase) and ‘ it is a lorry zone outside, if you pick a fight the lorry will win (no paraphrasing). Also, and importantly, there’s absolutely no topping out – unless you want a short sharp shoOh – the walls at 4.5m high are above the limits. The usual iPad sign up followed and was easy, making for a well paced but well informed intro.
Anything else I should mention before climbing? Well the coffee was good, staff were friendly, there didn’t seem to be many lockers and you needed to bring your own lock. I just stashed my bags in a box as I normally do anyway. There’s a small separated traversing section that looks a little like they wanted a training room but didn’t want to lose climbing space (it has harder floors and space for a TRX), I should have asked really.
Anyway after warming up (yes I do… minimum 20 jumping Jack’s or likewise, 10 gentle arms swings in both directions and anything else I need to get the blood flowing, push up with rotation is good although I do look like an idiot). As I was saying.. I started my ‘climb all the colours’ game, which normally involves me failing on 80% of everything… but was drawn to doing circuits. Firstly due to the nice circuit maps displayed at the front but also due to the routes. Now I wasn’t going to comment on the setting, I don’t really feel I have the background to do so, but it was a big influence in how I ended up working, so I’ll comment a bit. I started working through the greens as I could climb them all, realised what I was doing (lazy girl) so switched up to the purple. At V2 -V4 these should be in my working garde, but what I found interesting and why I stuck to the circuit was the variety of climbing at a similar grade. Even at the V2 end the range of moves and styles was great, it meant that although I romped up a ‘nasty’ overhang where the first hold was head height followed by slopers and side pulls, I got stuck on a slab for nearly 40mins… So a good session. After which I was a bit sad they didn’t have a shower and wondered if two toilets would be a bit tight when it’s busy. But loos aside, Rock Star is definitely up there in my (admittedly limited) list of the good bits of Swindon.
I’m not going to compare Rock Star to other walls at this stage as I feel you have to climb a few times at a wall before you can really rate it. I’ll definitely be back to find out though. For one thing, I have to try out their roped section, although I’ve described it as a bouldering wall (and it does have that feel) they’ve 12 routes set up to top or lead and there’s a nice bit of shaping to the wall for variety as well.
Oh and I’ve still got to finish the purple circuit, better check their setting timetable!