A new indoor artificial climbing facility at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, part-funded by The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, has had its grand opening in the base’s gymnasium.

Putting his climbing skills to the test along with Base Warrant Officer (BWO) WO1 Bridgette Turner, Captain Ade Orchard OBE made the first official ascent of the new wall, after unveiling a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

“This Climbing Wall is second to none across the whole of the Armed Forces, certainly the best in the Royal Navy,” said Leading Physical Training Instructor Gareth Reid, RNAS Culdrose Adventure Training Instructor. “It really is very impressive and has been devised very cleverly. It has six automatic belays, which allow people to ascend and descend safely unaccompanied after a swift induction lesson.”

The Wall has been constructed across a whole end of the main gymnasium at Culdrose and can be changed or altered at a moment’s notice. Challenging overhangs, innovative handhold patterns and realistic layouts make the facility a top class asset for Culdrose’s gym. “On the far left there is a gentler section which can be used to instruct abseiling and allow us to teach climbing techniques on the wall,” continued Gareth.

Other sections have been designed to be more aggressive and technical, which the gym staff and Culdrose Climbing Club hope will attract competitions and top names down to RNAS Culdrose. Using it to attract people and introduce them to climbing is also part of a long-term aim; taking climbers on to the more challenging coastal climbs around the Cornish coastline after learning in the gym.

Not possible without charity support

Much of the funding for the new facility has come from two important service bodies: The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Sports Lottery (RNRMSL) and The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC). Together they helped with the £75,000 for the project, as well as helmets, ropes and harnesses.

“What we have is way beyond my wildest dreams when I looked into getting a climbing wall,” said Lieutenant Pete Mack, from Culdrose Climbing Club.

“It’s absolutely fantastic, and will allow us to introduce climbing to everyone, in particular the new trainees joining Culdrose. It about 20 per cent bigger than anything else in Cornwall and with the Auto-Belays will let people of all abilities train, instruct and compete. We have big plans to get Naval Families involved; it will be the first time across the MOD as far as I am aware. Anyone with suitable training can come in and use the climbing wall; it is an unbelievable opportunity for all.”