I have never been in love with climbing Walls. Mainly as I was never a great climber and spent much of my youth loading wagons with rations and was usually exhausted after work. On my early days at RAF Valley in the late 70s we visited the local wall in Llangefni once a week it was full of all the stars of the era. My mate the late Mick Heron climbed with a bag of bricks in his bag training bonkers. He was a very talented climber and even the locals were impressed. I was that bad a climber but I still went regularly mainly for the social but always liked climbing in the mountains. We had plenty of great wee cliffs at Valley on the camp and of course Gogarth and Holyhead Mountain (hump) nearby and the great cliffs of Wales. We met some great characters at the Wall folk like Paul Williams the Welsh Guru who became a good pal and a few others. It was a Whose who of the climbing at that time.
My mate Pete Greening sent me this “
Best climbing wall…ever!
Located on Dhahran airbase, Saudi Arabia, during the 1991 Gulf War. Using the reinforced concrete blast walls (designed to protect our aircraft from explosions) as the wall, holes were drilled, and holds screwed on (we took them out with us, on the off-chance we’d find something suitable to screw them onto).
For the frustrated and bored climber (in my experience, war was 95% boredom, 5% panic), this facility provided a good means to keep sane and try and stay in climbing shape.
No one had any climbing shoes, or chalk, just our combat boots. At that time of year, temperatures didn’t stray much above 32°, so not too hot. Unlike modern climbing walls/gyms, there was no safety matting….just solid concrete to fall on. This concentrated the mind quite a bit…that, and the constant threat of air raids and Scud missile attacks (we had many!)…so grade wise, I’m guessing it was about V2 for the full traverse, with about E6/7 worth of danger. The youth of today don’t know how lucky they have it!
P.S. Patriot missile launches are AWESOME!!!! Although it would have been nice to have been told that they had sited a Patriot Battery directly behind us before the first air raid! 😱😱😱💩💩💩💩💩
P.P.S. an F-15 Strike Eagle starting up sounds exactly like an air raid siren….even more 💩💩💩💩 came out!
P.P.P.S. The NIAD chemical weapons detector warning sound is exactly the same it makes for having a flat battery!!! They never told us that in training ⚠️
Thanks Pete for that, we had a real Wall in the Falklands but I spent most of my time outside.
Falklands photos please