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Heading Back To The 90s: Exploring Sheffield’s Climbing Evolution

man climbing on a moon board. Sheffield's climbing evolution. Where was the moon board invented?

The Beginning of Sheffield’s Climbing Evolution

In an era before state-of-the-art climbing facilities became commonplace, a tight-knit community of dedicated climbers in Sheffield, England, defied convention by transforming ordinary spaces into extraordinary training grounds. Driven by an insatiable thirst for progression, these trailblasers revolutionised the climbing scene, paving the way for future generations to push boundaries and redefine what was possible. This article delves into the gritty, inspiring world of Sheffield’s climbing evolution with it’s cellar-dwelling climbers, exploring their ingenuity, determination, and the lasting impact they’ve had on the sport we cherish today.

Climbing Evolution: The Birth of a Movement

The origins of this underground climbing revolution can be traced back to the early 1990s, when a group of visionary climbers in Sheffield sought a new training haven. Faced with limited options, they stumbled upon an unconventional solution: the “School Room,” a modest 30-by-30-foot classroom within the Anns Grove School, rented out by the Sheffield City Council to artists.

The School Room: A Crucible of Innovation

Under the leadership of climbing legends like Ben Moon, Jerry Moffatt, and Gavin Ellis, the School Room quickly transformed into a crucible of innovation. Utilising a DIY approach, the climbers erected three distinct walls: a 50-degree board, a 30-degree board, and the iconic Cressbrook Board, a 10-degree undercut overhang. Resourcefulness was key, as they supplemented resin holds with repurposed wood offcuts and bannister remnants salvaged from dumpsters, meticulously screwing everything together by hand to begin the indoor climbing evolution.

A Training Ground for Legends

What began as a modest training facility soon became a breeding ground for some of the UK’s most formidable climbing talents. Luminaries like Malcolm Smith, Stuart Cameron, and the indomitable Ben Moon pushed their limits, establishing test pieces that would redefine the boundaries of difficulty. Smith’s ascents of Perky Pinky and Milk It, both graded Font 8b (V13), on the 50-degree board, set new standards for power and technique.

The Pursuit of Perfection

The School Room’s unique setup fostered an environment where climbers could hone their skills to an unprecedented degree. As Moon explains, “An 8b at the School Room would be 8b+ elsewhere,” underscoring the facility’s uncompromising nature. Climbers meticulously tracked problems in a guidebook, continuously updating and expanding the repertoire of challenges.

The Birth of the MoonBoard

One of the School Room’s most enduring legacies was the birth of the iconic MoonBoard, a standardised training wall devised by Ben Moon and Rich Simpson in 2005. Initially erected at the old facility, the MoonBoard concept quickly gained traction, with users contributing to an ever-expanding online guidebook of problems. Today, countless MoonBoard iterations grace climbing gyms worldwide, a testament to the visionary spirit that birthed it.

Honouring the Legacy and embracing the climbing evolution of the 2000’s

As the School Room’s doors closed in 2006, the legacy of Sheffield’s 90s climbing scene lived on, inspiring new generations of climbers. The innovation and determination of those early climbers continue to influence the sport, reminding us of the creative spirit that drove them to greatness.

Experience the MoonBoard at Awesome Walls

At Awesome Walls, we celebrate this rich heritage by offering climbers the chance to train on our state-of-the-art MoonBoard installations. The MoonBoard, born from the ingenuity of Sheffield’s climbing legends, provides an unparalleled training experience, allowing climbers to push their limits and achieve new heights.

Embrace the Adventure

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the sport, the journey to greatness begins with a willingness to embrace the unknown. Just as the Sheffield climbers of yesteryear transformed ordinary spaces into extraordinary training grounds, we invite you to embark on your own adventure at Awesome Walls. Experience the thrill of the MoonBoard, join our vibrant community, and be a part of the next chapter in climbing history.

At Awesome Walls, we’re more than just a climbing facility – we’re a community of like-minded individuals united by a shared love for the sport and a desire to push boundaries. Join us on this exhilarating journey, and let’s write the next chapter of climbing history together.

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