In the past few years, people of all ages have taken up indoor climbing, and new centres are springing up across the UK. Why do so many people, young and old, want to spend their free time hanging off a wall?

It’s a Saturday morning in Southampton, and I am four metres from the ground, clinging to a wall and suddenly remembering that I am terrified of heights. Everything was fine while I was moving, but now I have climbed as high as I can and I can’t find a foothold to start back down. My heart is hammering and my whole body is cold. I could just let go and fall to the heavily padded floor; but although that wouldn’t hurt, it’s somehow unthinkable.

“How did I get here?” I bleat to myself, followed by: “And how do I get down?”

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