It's on the up!

BMC Open Youth Bouldering 2017

In 2006 approximately 67,000 people took part in climbing on a weekly basis in the UK. By 2016 this had almost doubled to 110,000.

Climbing is on the up. As more and more people look for a social activity that keeps them fit and strong, they are turning not to their gyms but to their climbing and bouldering walls.

Worldwide, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) estimates that 25 million people are regularly climbing. In the U.S., between 1,000 and 1,500 people are trying climbing for the first time every day. Here in the UK BMC membership has increased from 25,000 in 1990 to 75,000 in 2015.

One of the attractions of bouldering is clearly the mental, as well as physical, challenge. Olivia, who considers herself relatively new to climbing, said, “It's puzzle-solving - you try a problem again and again, using different grips, different footing to get past the bits you get stuck on. Every time you make it further it's like another piece of the puzzle slotting into place.”

It’s even encouraging those who would not normally go to the gym to get exercising. As Joe, a regular climber, said, “Bouldering's a great way to trick yourself into staying active. The mental stimulation you get from bouldering is greater than just going to a gym, so you're more likely to keep going”.

The challenge doesn’t stop once you are an experienced climber. As Joe points out, “It's always puzzle solving no matter how good you get, there's always a harder route”. This is perhaps what has hooked so many into returning to their climbing wall on a regular basis.

Whilst campaigns such as ‘This Girl Can’ aim to get more women into sports and exercises that have been male dominated, climbing has been shown to be one of the more diverse sports. Around 38% of climbers are women and 39% are under 18. Most sports reach only around 31% participation from women and fit into more specific age ranges; climbing is becoming one of the most accessible and exciting sports for a huge demographic. In 2017 the ISFC Youth Championships saw 1,172 athletes take part with 24 from GB Climbing. This was the world’s biggest climbing competition to date and only looks set to grow in future years.

An increase in those climbing has naturally led to an increase in climbing walls, with number growing from 200 to 280 between 2008 and 2015. As Management Today reports, Fred Stone, director of the Arch Climbing Wall, says “a new wall creates new customers”, rather than the opposite. The opportunity to climb and learn more about the sport seems to increase participation even amongst those who weren’t sure it would be for them.

With climbing recently approved as an Olympic sport with athletes competing for gold from the 2020 games in Tokyo, this looks set to be only the beginning. It is the perfect time to open a bouldering wall in an area where climbers are underserved, but ready to get on the wall.

Want to be a part of this exciting opportunity?

Boulder Hut is opening the first, in a series of walls, in Ellesmere Port in 2018, and is giving you the opportunity to invest and be a climbing wall owner. There is SEIS and EIS tax relief available and a number of exciting rewards too, including climbing passes and a children's party. Find out more

About the author

Millie Kidson

Freelance writer and blogger Millie Kidson can usually be found writing about books and wine. She is a huge fan of exercise and takes to the climbing wall to increase her strength.