For those of you climbing the walls looking for something to do on a rainy day, you could do worse than make a visit to the Dingle climbing wall at Play At Height. West of Dingle Town, in Miltown, you’ll find this fantastic and impressive indoor climbing facility, the largest in Ireland and just a few feet shy of the highest of its kind in the country.
I don’t recommend any activity on this website that I haven’t tried myself, so despite my not being very good with heights, I recently headed out to Play At Height to test my climbing skills.
Getting set-up for a climb is quick and painless. The staff will provide you with a harness that is easy to wear and adjust. You have to wear a helmet too, and again these are easy to adjust. The line is then connected to your harness with a strong secure metal clip. The walls graduate in different levels of difficulty which is basically dictated by the slope of the assent. There are hand and foot grips attached to the wall and at the very top there is a pulley type of device that your line is connected to.
My Ascent To New Heights
There are different rope systems in place, and I used the ropes that do not require someone to hold the line on the ground while you climb. The instructor suggested climbing up a couple of meters and then descending, just to get confidence in the ropes ability to support you. Of course, once I started climbing I didn’t want to waste all that hard work just to test the rope system, onward and upward (and don’t look down)!
The climb was not too difficult, and the trick is to use your legs more than you may naturally be inclined. Many people depend so much on their upper body strength, as a result they can soon tire out their fingers and arms. By using your legs more to support your weight to rest while climbing, you can ease the burden on your arms and hands.
“What Goes Up Must …”
Upon reaching the top of the wall it was now time to finally test the rope/pulley system for my decent. Being a little ‘uncomfortable’ with heights, I had avoided glancing down until this point. Probably not a great idea, one look and I started to doubt my sanity, and felt a growing urgency to get back on to solid ground. Obviously, to achieve this there is only one way – you have to let go of the wall. I clung on for a few extra seconds as my brain tried to convince my fingers to release the hand grips on the wall. Reluctantly they let go and I dropped… about 6 inches and my decent almost stopped completely. My confidence in the rope system was restored and the next part was a lot of fun, as I abseiled down the wall, holding the rope and using my legs to bounce off the wall. To avoid embarrassment it’s best ot ready yourself for the landing. Many people who fail to adjust their body tilt at the end of the decent end up landing gently on their ass on the padded floor and rolling on their back.
It was quiet a thrill to be honest, and I was only on the floor a few seconds before heading back up to do it all again!
Multiple Wall Climbing Challenges
There are other wall climbing challenges that do not need any ropes. These are for lateral climbing, for practising moving horizontally along a wall, and boulder climbing. My fingers and forearms were pretty tired, but I had a go at the bouldering wall which has varying degrees of overhang. This has a massive thick padded mat below it, so if you do manage to climb to the top of the 15 – 20 ft height, your fall is not a concern. Even the easy part of this was deceptively difficult to climb, and the ‘easy part’ of the overhang was too much for me, and off I dropped flat on my back.
Pause For Thought…
While lying there catching my breath, I thought it an opportune time to take stock of these indoor climbing wall facilities right in the heart of the Dingle Peninsula. If you enjoyed climbing as a child, you’ll enjoy it as an adult. The climbing wall is as challenging as you need it to be, with differing levels of difficulty for everyone’s physic. My little girls (four and six years old), both enjoy climbing here (they’re like little spiders!). For those who get into it as a sport, there are extremely difficult overhangs for the advanced climbers to keep you challenged. In fact, the facilities are used for international climbing competitions, so highly are they regarded abroad.
Great For Families Too
This facility is also a big hit with families. There is a small padded play area to keep younger kids amused, and basic tea/coffee/snack facilities for moms and dads who just want to catch their breath for a few minutes. Kids love the climbing wall, and it’s a excellent form of exercise as it strengthens muscles, builds confidence and kids get a great sense of achievement from the challenges. For young climbers four years and over, there is a popular discounted kids club on every Thursday between 5 and 6pm.