Summit to celebrate as flood-hit Leeds climbing centre opens

Instructor Doug MacWilliam at The Climbing Lab

Instructor Doug MacWilliam at The Climbing Lab

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EIGHT weeks ago today, the challenge facing the owners of a new climbing centre in Leeds appeared insurmountable.

As they kitted it out with state-of-the-art bouldering facilities, The Climbing Lab, in Kirkstall, was hit by the catastrophic Boxing Day floods.

An aerial view of Kirkstall after the flood. Kirkstall Industrial Park is in the foreground

An aerial view of Kirkstall after the flood. Kirkstall Industrial Park is in the foreground

Just weeks from opening, staff were forced to abandon the warehouse as water poured in, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident it appeared that they may never recover.

But with the help of family, friends and dozens of volunteers, they clawed their way back from the brink.

And today all those involved felt on top of the world as the centre had its official opening.

The scene outside The Climbing Lab after the flooding

The scene outside The Climbing Lab after the flooding

Manager David Long said: “It’s amazingly exciting to get the centre finished, knowing where we were just a month ago. All the help and support we have had makes it feel like we are part of something really special.”

The Climbing Lab, based at Kirkstall Industrial Park,was one of thousands of businesses and homes affected when the River Aire burst its banks on Boxing Day, turning Kirkstall Road into a de facto river.

Staff who were inside the building at the time were forced to break their way out as the water level rose.

Much of the equipment was damaged beyond repair.

Volunteers helped with the huge clean-up

Volunteers helped with the huge clean-up

But the centre was among dozens of firms to receive help from volunteers as the community rallied to help people rebuild their lives.

Mr Long, a Londoner, said: “To see the sense of community was just amazing.

“People use the word ‘rollercoaster’, but this is the first time I’ve ever appreciated what that meant. We have been through every emotion. It has been such a tough ride, but we have come out of it.”

The centre, which has room for about 300 climbers at any one time, had a soft launch for friends and family on Wednesday before today’s official opening.

Hundreds of people were expected for today’s launch, which included a DJ and climbing competitions.

Barry McGrath.

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