We were invited to try out Clip’n’Climb which has just opened a short hop over the river in Chelsea.
Although they say the minimum age for children is 4, I was a bit nervous as my 4 year old’s particularly small (so short in fact that we had to get her school uniform made specially as she is still in 24 months clothes). I wasn’t sure she’d manage but she was up and away in no time.
The whole set up is very slick and super brightly coloured which draws the kids straight in. On arrival you get shown how to fit your harness and then given a short safety talk before you are led through to the climbing walls. As my kids are so little I went in with them, but there is a viewing gallery area with tea and coffee for parents of older children to relax and watch from (I was a tad envious).
There are lots of different climbs to choose from, of varying levels of difficulty, but all really well designed to make them fun for kids – a wall that looked like a screenshot from Tetris, one that looks like giant building blocks piled on top of each other, a beanstalk (which totally defeated me), an ice climb and my daughter’s favourite which had big colourful circles and easy hand and foot holds (christened the ‘Twister’ by her) as well as many more.
All climbers are totally safe as if you fall the belay system lowers you slowly and safely to the ground. It takes some getting used to though, especially the first time! Having merrily climbed to the top of one of the walls, it took me a good few minutes to work up the courage to just lean back and let myself fall and when I did my heart was pounding. Very exhilarating though and it seemed to be less of an issue for the rest of the climbers in our session. Kids were merrily throwing themselves off walls all around me.
It’s not for the faint hearted and my 6 year old son couldn’t be persuaded to give it a try despite often being found at the top of the climbing frame in the park. I’m sure if he’d given it a go he would have been hooked but his nerves got the better of him. His 4 year old sister had no qualms and was merrily zipping around the place from wall to wall and enjoying swinging on the rope on her way down.
Most of the other children in our session were a bit older (say 8+) and I think that they do need to be to really make the most of the climbing. Older kids have the opportunity to ramp up the excitement/fear factor with timed climbs, head to head climbing races and a vertical drop slide.
The piece de resistance is the ‘Leap of Faith’ where you climb up a huge tower before leaping off of a platform at the top and grabbing on to a monkey bar style hand hold in front of you (which can be cunningly moved closer or further away depending on the size of the climber). By the end of our one hour session in the climbing area, almost half of the children had become confident enough to give this a try. Really spectacular and mastering it gave them a real sense of achievement – plus they got to fly super-man like back down to the ground afterwards.
One of the things that impressed me most was the staff. Monitoring a group of over excited under 15s climbing the walls while their parents relax upstairs is no mean feat but they hit just the right balance of fun and professional. Serious enough to make the kids follow the rules but also whooping and cheering when they mastered something.
We will definitely be going back and not just because the 6 year old decided he really had wanted to give it a go after all within minutes of our leaving.
Fun, confidence building and great exercise – what’s not to like.