You’re driving home, listening to the radio and a favourite song from the 80’s comes on. You suddenly indulge in the cherished, personal moments it evokes, and you feel a sense of warmth and security. Our memory seeds out the best things from the past and leaves us longing for them, clinging onto their remains whenever we can - whether it’s a scent, a sound, a special place.
And although we can’t go back in time, we can always find ways to keep the good things rolling, and even improve them. 15 years ago the climbing industry could offer only walls from natural wood, just because the coating techniques we have today were still underdeveloped. Some time later, technological progress allowed us to produce the modern look we’re accustomed to now, with its variety of beautiful textures and colourful patterns.
Walltopia is now bringing the natural wood back as a desired element in any modern climbing wall. With its warm vintage appearance, it brings comfort and good memories of the old times to make climbers feel home. One of the places where you can find this old-new style is Project Hangar 4 in La Coruna, Spain.
Climbing by the sea
La Coruna is a small Spanish port city located on the Galician coast. It is rich in history and sights, among which is the oldest Roman lighthouse still used today. It also happens to be the hometown of the world-class climber Finuco Martinez who consulted the project.
As he likes to say himself, “Finuco is climbing, and climbing is Finuco”. He was the sixth man in the world to climb the Yosemite classic - 'Midnight Lightning', also known as the world's most famous bouldering problem - yes, that one at Camp 4 with the sprayed lightning. Back in 1983, at the age of 17, together with his partner who was 16, they became the two youngest climbers to send El Capitan. They held the record for 36 years until last year.
“This project in La Coruna made me very proud because La Coruna is a city of nowhere - when I started climbing many years ago, it was only full of fishermen. The town is looking to the sea, not to the mountains.”
The community side of climbing
Spain is full of beautiful rock formations and has always been a hot spot for climbers. Also, in the last 10 years, indoor climbing has seen a steady rise, especially since Chris Sharma opened his gym in Barcelona in 2015 in cooperation with Walltopia. Indoor climbing caters to a different and broader public compared to rock climbing and that’s demonstrated by the fact that 80% of the Hangar 4 visitors don’t go climbing outside.
“If all the people were to go outside, it would be bad for nature. They don’t want to. They combine it with going to zumba and other activities, you can also spend time with people, having a drink in the gym. It’s very social - they like the community part of it”, adds Finuco.
This comes from the variety of activities the gym offers - as the designer of the project Petar Iliev shares, they managed to fit a few facilities into the space, which encourages people to be active together and turns climbing into a social experience.
“The gym incorporates a dedicated training room where climbers can polish their skills and techniques, two boulder areas, a tall climbing wall suitable for beginners, a resistance wall with a 35° incline, a studio for yoga and other directed activities, as well as a cafeteria/bar.”
This feeling of belonging and comfort is enhanced by the natural wooden surface of the climbing walls inside. As Finuco describes it, Hangar 4 is the “typical industrial space”. The combination of natural wood and graphite panels made it into a cozy, inviting destination, letting the routes stand out and be a colourful accent to the interior.
The key feature of wood is its versatility - it can be used just by itself or as a signature element of a multi-color design, be it graphite, as in Hangar 4, or any bright color. Another popular combination is natural plywood with teal and an interesting design experiment Walltopia recently did was combine it with magenta and it looked superb. In short, wood gives you enough space to personify your wall to fit into your interior goals while delivering a feeling of coziness and warmth.
The wood surface might look demanding in terms of maintenance but in reality Walltopia wood panels are covered with rubber resistant coating which makes it easy for the operators to take care of them. They also offer exactly the same amount of friction as the regular Walltopia climbing panels, but in combination with a warm, quaint feeling which makes everyone feel like home.