20 years have passed since the Castle was born as a climbing centre from its origins as a Victorian water pumping station. Rich in history and architecturally unique, this North London gem that is a community for many climbers deserved a good birthday bash. And wow did we have one!
Simultaneously celebrating our birthday with Halloween and teaming up with Lyon equipment, the Castle was ghoulishly turned into a UV night of extreme fun; bouldering competition with UV
glowing holds, head torch roped climbing , followed by a party that carried into the night with a lively bar and what can only be described as an old school rave until the early morning!
Up late the night before, the setters worked hard creating a range of problems and creative shapes with brand new fluorescent holds. The rest of the Castle team were also on hand to decorate and adorn the walls in UV tape and freakish dolls. From skulls to hanging spiders, tomb stones to aliens, the space took on a freaky atmosphere. As these ghoulish decorations were assembled, the Loft’s transformation was kept a secret until the day of the party. Once the blue lights were switched on, the top two floors were transformed into another world that were aptly complimented by the Castle’s ancient age of 160 years.
The bouldering competition kicked off the event and the junior and senior competitors put in a sterling effort with their climbing skills and crazy costumes. A cheeky rotating volume added an
extra twist to the problems set. The three bloc finals provided glowing spectacles with mc’ing from rock legend Neil Gresham and head setter Mike Langley. Unlike no bouldering competition ever seen, spatial awareness was warped as the glowing holds and dark mood added an extra challenge to competitors.
The senior males had spectators gasping in excitement as Jim Pope struggled on the first bloc, but then cruised the others. Thom Arnold, two years running dyno comp champ gave a sterling effort coming third. The ever enthusiastic Louis Parkinson came first, his reasoning being his bad footwork and brute strength suited the final problem. Pretty strong effort then Louis!
The senior females gave an equally strong display, won by the young and graceful Eugenie Lee, followed by Tiffany Soithongsuk in second and Storme Biggs in third place.
Prizes were awarded for the best UV outfit. Neon lycra all in ones, a Mexican day of the Dead family, Indiana Bones, Pirates, Clock Work Orange. The video and photos speak for themselves!
Behind the competition senses were sharpened as there was a rare chance at some head torched leading and top roping in the pitch black lead area. All the while the cafe staff gave head torched service with a smile.
At 9pm the cafe was magically transformed into a nightclub bar complete with cobwebs and ghoulish heads in jars. Stiff cocktails flowed and glowing vodka jellies were knocked back as pumping music kept everyone bouncing on the dance floor. At the helm of the crowd was none other than Johnny Dawes throwing some classic shapes not unlike his moves on Quarryman.
Instructor and Duty Manager Jamie Ashman become ‘dutty manager’ of the music as he DJ’d B2B with route setter Ben West, playing every classic jungle and drum and bass track known to man. As dawn approached, the remaining and weary Castle team turned out the last few hardcore partygoers and pulled together to spruce up the Castle to a presentable state for our usual Sunday 9am opening. A special shout out goes to this team, not forgetting Gav Symmonds, our maintenance man who woke up early and took down all the decoration and lighting. And we cannot forget Claire Lee, our Events Manger who for over five years has put together these parties. Parties that are testament to the fact that the Castle is not just your average climbing
wall, but a very special place indeed.
The Castle is growing up in every sense of the word; with a new reception and Wells 3 and 4 to be opened early January 2016, we are getting bigger and better. And there is another exciting new development involving Pirates Playhouse on its way in 2016.
Finally it is thanks to founder Steve Taylor who saw this one once dormant building’s potential and turned it into what it is today. Along the way we thank the staff, customers and climbing itself for bringing the Castle into its 20th year.