EDINBURGH’S newest climbing centre is set to open today, promising to make the sport more accessible to a greater number of people than ever before.
Situated in a converted ship chandlery on Dunedin Street in Bonnington, Alien Bloc is owned by Alien Rock, which opened its first centre in Newhaven in 1994.
While the Capital boasts several existing rope and harness climbing centres, Alien Bloc is a bouldering centre focusing on ropeless climbing at low heights.
This particular type of climbing can be enjoyed with a suitable pair of shoes and a chalk bag – the minimal amount of climbing equipment required.
Owner Reuben Welch says all ages, body types and skill levels are welcome at their new Powderhall premises and “problems” have been designed in a way that will keep people coming back.
“The new centre is very accessible, as only a very basic level of fitness is required for the type of climbing that Alien Bloc offers,” he says.
“Our wall and bouldering problems are changed regularly to sustain long-term interest.
“The result of this allows climbers both experienced and inexperienced to continue to find new paths to climb.”
The new centre offers over 500 square metres of angled walls, including a seven metre-long roof with hundreds of climbing “problems” to challenge novice and more experienced climbers.
Alien Bloc is not the first bouldering centre to have opened in Edinburgh, after the same firm previously operated Alien Rock 2 at West Bowling Green. However, the venture failed to attract the numbers envisaged.
Welch is confident the company has learned from the mistakes of the past, promising a much more “professional finish” at Alien Bloc.
He added: “This site has a noticeably more modern climbing wall and professional finish and really the whole space is designed to be a more comfortable and welcoming environment for everyone.”
Planning and location-hunting for the new Alien Bloc centre began more than two years ago with construction finally starting in February this year.
Welch believes bouldering is the perfect way to ensure, not just a healthy body, but a healthy mind too.
He added: “Mental health studies show that rock climbing, specifically bouldering, has been shown to be successful at combatting mental health issues such as depression and anxiety”.
Alien Bloc opens its doors to the public for the first time tomorrow at 11am.