Climbing Gym Launched at St Andrews College – Makhanda

The picturesque St Andrews College in Grahamstown has opened their new climbing gym, constructed in an old squash court. The gym was constructed during the Easter break, delighting the learners when they returned to school to find attractive climbing walls painted in the school colours. 

Situated in the corner of a beautiful floodlit sports field, the gym is a great add for many learners. They are finding that not only does climbing add greatly to the sport options for the athletically talented, but also opens a new arena where those not inclined to conventional school sports can also excel.

The gym, which used to be an old squash court, sits happily in the corner of a St Andrews sports field.

Ian Clifford of Valley Crag climbing gym and Chris Naude – Vice President of Western Cape Climbing – have teamed up to create a new business that will focus on providing climbing facilities for schools and clubs. They have focused on cost-effective solutions with pre-manufactured and locally produced components to keep on-site time to a minimum. Clifford and Naude are also very pleased to be using some wonderful local materials thanks to Cubed Volumes.  They were also happy to find that the squash court turned out to be the perfect site for the gym, offering 9m x 6m of space with plenty of height. The gym team would like to extend a huge thanks to those at the school whose hospitality made their stay in this quirky town so pleasant.





The inclusion of climbing in the Tokyo Olympics, along with having two SA climbers competing at the games this year, has really provided great visibility for the sport in South Africa. Having been at the forefront of climbing federations at a provincial and national level for many years, Naude commented that the career path from raw beginner to Olympian is not an impossible or unrealistic ambition for dedicated athletes. Their new business will not only focus on the building of gyms, but will also assist and provide guidance with the important technicalities of safety, route setting, coaching, sporting colours policies, and more.

In addition, a climbing gym can be a huge boost to the general fitness and wellbeing of all learners if included in physical education classes. There is also ample opportunity for psychological and emotional growth through the introduction of climbing to scholars. Chris is expecting that many schools will be encouraged by the success at St Andrews and be inspired to start planning their own facilities.

The climbing community is looking forward to a big step-up in climbing at schools, leading to an even more vibrant competition scene in South Africa and the continent. It is hoped that climbing will become more readily integrated into school extracurriculars, thus allowing for more adolescents to be introduced to the sport and find a passion they may not have otherwise discovered.

To find out more about climbing in schools and universities, click here.