We’re open for business, says Newport climbing centre owner

Written by on September 4, 2020

The owner of a climbing centre which reopened more than a month ago said he is still getting queries on whether he is open for business.

Karl Smith said that the size of the Newport Rock climbing centre has made adapting things easier than for some other businesses

Karl Smith runs the independent Newport Rock climbing centre. He said that the open nature of the building, a unit on the Springfields Industrial Estate in Newport, made it fairly straightforward to make the necessary adaptations for safety.

Loose climbing chalk that can lead to dust has been banned, and climbers are now asked to use liquid chalk with an alcohol content of at least 70 per cent to aid with hygiene.

The centre in Newport has been open since late July, but Karl said that it has been difficult getting the message out to everyone.

Some of the new measures in place include a protective screen in the reception area, a ban on loose climbing chalk and a limit on visitor numbers – though that limit has not yet been reached.

Karl said that he was able to put the downtime of the lockdown to use.

“I took the opportunity to redecorate the centre so I’ve made use of the time.

“I think everybody was in the same boat, waiting for the government announcement. It became clear that climbing centres were counted as gyms, being the last to reopen.

“Given it’s quite a large, open building, it hasn’t been too difficult. I’ve got a screen up at reception.

“Probably one of the main things we’ve done is ban loose chalk and require the use of liquid chalk. It has a high alcohol content, that is a big bonus. We sell it at the centre. Most people have been happy to compromise.

“People have been pretty supportive. One of the main problems we have found is that climbing centres haven’t been mentioned so much in the updates.

“I don’t think people really fully realise that we’re open again. We still keep getting messages, ‘have we reopened?’

“From our point of view it’s been tough for us to let everyone know.”

Karl is a keen climber himself and also takes part in outdoor expeditions

Visitors to the centre don’t have to book as some climbing centres have stated, though anyone who comes to climb is asked to be as ‘ready to climb’ as possible when they arrive.

“Some centres have gone down a booking system, we’ve tried to avoid that. You can come as and when you want.

“The ability to go climbing at a moment’s notice is quite important, like going to the gym.

“The spontaneity is important, if you feel you want to go for a climb after work with some friends you can.”

Visit facebook.com/newport.rock.3 to learn more.

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