A new Climbing wall in London isn’t unheard of, Hell we went to one just a few weeks back, but one hyped for so long, featured on Climbing Daily a year before it was even opened and talked about by so many seemed a necessity for Climbing Moss to visit.
But when Yonder opened their website scared us, the price list for a single entry climb was £45! We now realise that was for a season ticket, but it was enough to make us think twice about going. Then Bob’s knee went from bad to ‘How is she still walking?!” and Climbing became a secondary issue. But itchy feet and the gnawing, niggling call of Unclimbed Walls*(Name the crag), beckoned us and sod the blown out knee we had to go.
So off we went on the Victoria Line, to Walthamstow, a part of the City Ash knew from years fishing at the Reservoirs but hadn’t been near since. It’s a strange place where signs make no sense
But thanks to Google Maps we stumbled across a warehouse district at the end of a building site and an understated sign denoting Yonder. Inside was what you’d expect – a climbing wall! – But a fresh, bright, well-appointed a large open space.
Pleasant staff do make for a good start and after registering (which the website says you do in person and the staff say you do online!) and an unusual safety question ‘What is the way down from the top out boulder?’ Answer – Down the slide! Never thought we’d say that. The changing area is communal and clean and the lockers are big enough to fit a rucksack in – Shock Horror! Don’t forget to take your own padlock.
We headed for the second floor and a large open warm up area, a much underused space, though they do have a yoga studio, the warm up area is just an empty, wooden floor space with a few foam mats oh and a rowing machine, because nothing says climbing like rowing! We stretched out the cobwebs and had a look around.
Yonder is basically on three levels ground floor, the main room and reception, then a first floor cafe, bar (yes bar!) and then a staggered floor.
A slab into wave overhang (not too steep) and then a few stairs to a training floor – campus boards, a few scattered weights, Beast-makers and Moon Board, plus the funky circuit board, that moves – changes pitch at the press of a button , this is cool and huge too,
We could see ourselves on that if we were in better condition and climbed more than once every 3 months!
We spent a lot of our time on the upper level, the slab/wave is pleasant, good consistent routes (in their grade). It was useful to have what grade they were marked clearly per route.
Ash: I like the fact they used the wall’s angles as a feature rather than just sticking a big easy jug route on the overhang for the V1 climbers and then filling the rest with V6-10, The V1 was just as interesting and well thought out as the V5, that I tried (and failed). Most walls do that, stick a really big ladder route on the hard wall, to ‘cater’ for the lower grades when they really want to make it for the hard routes.
Bob: I like that Yonder unlike every other climbing wall actually didn’t focus on overhangs, there was slabs! Plus a cave (oh how I Love my caves) The training area was nice and spacious and had a good assortment of training equipment. Plus you could see all around, it was very open. There was a section closed off whilst we were there, which was a shame as some of the routes that they were setting looked really good, hopefully next time it will be open. In the meantime does anyone want to fix my knee? (Its fucked!)
Other features of the space is a large open cave area, there is a sign saying a new traverse wall is due and again it looks like a big space for it. The Top Out Boulder is good too, most walls now don’t want you climbing over the top, so when you get outside for the first time, you will never know the ‘Beached Whale’ or ‘Walrus’ technique needed to finish the route, But Yonder has you sorted and your rewards for your inelegant thruxing over the top, you get – yes – the slide!
The Castle has the slide for kids only, but Yonder has a Big Kid’s Slide to get back down and it is so fun! Well done Yonder! (Although Ash got a snarky comment from one climber who refused to descend via the slide saying, ‘I’m an Adult, I’ll use the stairs, thank you!’ Well his loss! More slide for meeeeeeeee!
We climbed on a Monday afternoon and this usually means a couple of students and the freelancers taking an afternoon off of sitting around thumb twiddling between jobs, but Yonder on a Monday PM is busy, the Café is busy all the time, groups of non climber sit and chat, there are offices all around the top tier and many workers milling about. But also a lot more climbers, including (much to Ash’s Fanboy excitement!) Michaela Tracy member of the British climbing Team and Louis Parkinson who was there Route Setting and taking lots of Selfies!
Michaela was climbing everything and anything, clearly enjoying the wall, she seemed to be all over the place, one minute trying a hideous big blue volume route that looked awkward and ridiculous, then helping another climber on the friction free holds, she was even seen on that black V1 on the wave and that’s what Yonder seems like, it is a lot more relaxed and has that old everyone talks to everyone vibe, that some other (North London Walls) don’t have. Ash wanted to ask her some questions, but Bob pointed out, she was there to climb, no one wants to be hassled when they are climbing, so we left her to that V11 instead!
But after a couple of hours trying all we could this pair of out of condition climbers had to call it quits, our fingers were crying for us to stop, so we headed to the café for a much needed coffee and a Toastie.
Ah trendies and their coffee, What the F*** is that? Because it is not coffee, first off the cup is something the field mouse in Alice in Wonderland would question as a cup, it’s tiny (said in a squeaky, soft voice for effect) and filled with brown – gloop! – It was not coffee or chocolate (It was meant to be a Mocha, it was not) It was DISGUSTING! Undrinkable, even with six sugars! The sandwich, which took the best part of fifteen minutes to be served, was equally mhh! Pesto, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Mozzarella it tasted of, of, of, well actually it tasted of nothing, it was tasteless, a non sandwich, devoid of flavour, a ghost of a sandwich.
So we would say go for the climbing avoid the cafe – maybe the beers would be better, we can’t say, surely they can’t ruin that, can they?
We will be back at some point, when Bob’s knee is better (so in about five years given the way the NHS are treating her!), we will just bring our own coffee and snacks! But in all we liked it a lot more than we thought we would – the slide and the moving wall helped! – But in all it’s a nice wall and we recommend it
GO CLIMB AT YONDER!
* the crag
Well that was our thoughts, what are your impressions of Yonder? What’s your favourite feature? Do you like the coffee, how’s the beer? Let us know and remember to check out our social media, Pinterest boards, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates and notifications of new posts each week.