July 2024: Special issue
Bouldering upgrade to start at EICA:Ratho after sportscotland investment

10 Jun 2024

Works on the upgrade of the bouldering facilities at Edinburgh Leisure’s flagship climbing arena at Ratho have begun following a major funding investment from sportscotland’s Sport Facilities Fund.

The Edinburgh International Climbing Arena received £100,000 towards bouldering redevelopment to improve opportunities to progress at all levels of the sport.
As the UK’s largest climbing gym and the only international competition venue, it has hosted European Championships and World Cup for Lead and Speed in recent years, but the bouldering facilities needed an upgrade to enable it to host all three IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing) and Olympic disciplines.

The new state of the art competition bouldering wall, designed by the Rockcity team, means that Ratho becomes the only climbing centre in the UK with Olympic standard facilities for all three climbing disciplines (lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering). Meanwhile, the 'real rock' freeform iconic boulders are being repurposed to a new site in the west of Scotland.

As Mark English, Managing Director of Rockcity explained: “The arena will host additional modern flat panelled bouldering walls and another freestanding boulder to give the Edinburgh community the best facilities in the city and surrounding area, using an unrivalled climbing hold selection and world class route setting.
When the work’s complete you can expect to see Edinburgh Leisure’s flagship climbing experience jump into the future and host some amazing competition and circuit-based bouldering later this year.”

The investment has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players, who raise £30 million each week for good causes across the UK.

Welcoming the investment, Emma Ogilvie-Hall, Head of Operations at Edinburgh Leisure said: “We’re delighted and very grateful to receive the sportscotland funding that means our outdated bouldering facilities at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA) can be replaced. With indoor bouldering now the most widely practised form of climbing it will ensure that the EICA can continue as a world class venue for all three climbing disciplines – lead, speed, and bouldering – while continuing to provide climbers of all ages and abilities with access to opportunities to participate in and progress through the sport. It will also mean that Scotland is able to host bouldering competitions and national training camps and allow the EICA to keep our national and international profile as a world-class climbing facility.”

Stuart Younie, CEO of Mountaineering Scotland said: “This is incredibly exciting news for Ratho and its regular customers but also the wider climbing community in Scotland. Not only will it enable EICA to host major events featuring all three Olympic disciplines but as our national centre for climbing in Scotland it will provide a first-class training venue delivering the performance environment needed to help support the development of our young climbers in Scotland. With Paris 2024 around the corner and new climbing centres appearing all over the UK to meet the increasing demand for the sport, this investment from sportscotland could not have come at a better time. We are looking forward to working with Edinburgh Leisure and the team at Ratho to maximise the opportunities the new bouldering wall will provide.”

The EICA:Ratho was among 18 projects across Scotland to share a total of £1,506,263 from sportscotland to develop existing facilities or create a new home for sport and physical activity.

Chief Executive of sportscotland, Forbes Dunlop, said: “The aim of the Sports Facilities Fund is to support sustainable and inclusive projects with their ambitions of using sport and physical activity to enhance the lives of their local communities. This investment would not be possible without National Lottery players who continue to raise vital funding for sport across Scotland. The physical and mental health benefits of sport are well documented, but equally important is the ability to create a space where everyone is welcome to participate at their own level. Projects like this one at the EICA not only create opportunities for people to take part in sport and physical activity but can also provide a place for communities to come together."

The Sports Facilities Fund prioritises projects that widen access to participation or allow people to progress further within their chosen sport locally by removing barriers, particularly in rural areas or areas of deprivation, and for under-represented groups.

In addition to the investment, projects can benefit from the expertise within sportscotland’s facilities team to maximise the impact that their plans will have, ensuring they meet the needs of their local communities now and in the future.

A fly-through artists impression of what the new boulders will look like can be viewed by clicking here.



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