Wednesday 15th February 2023, 2:25pm
Mountaineering Scotland was shocked and saddened to hear the announcement from Highlife Highland last week about the imminent closure of the climbing wall at Inverness Leisure Centre.
Mountaineering Scotland has supported the development of the new indoor bouldering facility, The Ledge, as a state of the art performance and bouldering venue, but we were unaware of plans by Highlife Highland to close the roped climbing wall at the Leisure Centre.
The Inverness Leisure Centre climbing wall was the first large scale facility that Mountaineering Scotland (formerly The Mountaineering Council of Scotland) was involved in. The local Inverness Climbing Club and local climbers saw the opportunity to develop the wall and Mountaineering Scotland joined discussions between the council, the local club representatives, and Inverness Leisure to ensure the design fitted with our national facilities strategy. This group worked hard to raise the funds and get the wall established, with a grant from sportscotland facilities funding.
The wall has been a focal point for climbers across the north of Scotland, being one of only two indoor facilities in the UK to have traditional climbing protection placements to practice on and with its walls hosting the Youth Climbing Competition Series for nearly two decades. It had a thriving youth climbing club, which included the transition to climbing outdoors (RealRock) as well as the competitive scene indoors. From this sprung four local climbers that were selected into the GB Team, who competed at International Youth Competitions and International Ice Competitions.
Mountaineering Scotland’s CEO, Stuart Younie, said: “We are very disappointed to hear that this closure appears to be going ahead without any consultation with ourselves or the many climbers who regularly visited the Leisure Centre wall. The wall offers a very different climbing experience to the new facility at The Ledge and has been an important venue for climbers in Inverness and the surrounding area.”
Mountaineering Scotland will be contacting Highlife Highland to clarify the reason for the closure and asking them to reconsider this decision, with the aim of keeping the wall open until the new roped climbing facilities at The Ledge are available. In the event the closure does go ahead, we would like a commitment from Highland Highlife to that any climbing equipment is repurposed and offered other facilities to make use of.