Reopening Frequently Asked Questions

White Angles

TCA has been working closely with the Association of British Climbing Walls and consulting with virologists to develop a new set of rules that will help our community to return to climbing safely.

Climbing safely

As we reopen The Climbing Academy there are new rules in place that will ensure everyone can climb safely. Please read and put into practise these new protocols. We know it will take a little getting used to, but with patience and a positive community, we know we can make this work.

There will be a phased reopening, with an initial focus on the basics of climbing. Additional classes and services will return over time. Please read, our answers to your frequently asked questions.


How have TCA’s cleaning procedures changed?

TCA is doing everything within reason to protect customers and staff, as well as limiting the spread of Covid-19 to the wider community. A new risk assessment has lead to the following policies and procedures being put in place:

• Where possible all doors will be left open to limit spreading the virus.
• All door handles and surfaces touched by customers will be cleaned once per hour by our staff.
• Until further notice we will NOT allow the use of water fountains.
• Toilets and showers will be cleaned as normal but, as noted, taps and door handles will be cleaned once an hour.
• Rental shoes will be cleaned as normal using sanitiser spray by TCA staff.
• Rental equipment will be cleaned when they are handed out and returned to staff using sanitiser wipes.
• Top ropes, auto-belay tapes and harnesses will not be cleaned.
• Customers and staff should wash their hands before and after handling equipment and make regular use of the sanitiser within centres or hand-washing thoroughly at sinks.

How was the new centre capacity calculated?

Our capacity limits are based on guidelines from UK Active in line with government advice.

How is TCA managing the number of people in the centre?

TCA will be observing the latest limitations on numbers of people within a given enclosed space, as informed by industry guidelines created by the Association of British Climbing Walls. This will be managed by a new mandatory check-in and check-out system for all people within the building including staff, visitors, contractors and customers.

Once our centres open and check ins go live,  you will be able to monitor current capacity via our live online capacity tracker. In addition, we will have signage up in certain areas (such as toilets, cafe seating areas and gyms) indicating capacities. Please observe signage and move through centres accordingly.

By buying your entry online, you can help to limit contact with our staff and other customers at reception. Choose your preferred centre and buy pre-paid passes, multi-visit punch cards and monthly billed passes online. Please note that choosing one centre just helps us to keep track of preferences. Your pass or punch card will be valid in all TCA centres. NB. Off-peak and multi-month passes are currently only available at reception.

The Mothership
The Newsroom
The Church
The Prop Store

Will you have a system to pre-book slots?

No. Pre-allocated slots would create start and end times during which there would be a much higher chance of queues and crowds, at reception and in toilets. There would be congestion as one time slot left and another arrived. We want to minimise queues and avoid funnelling centre-users into crowded arrival times by allowing a constant flow throughout the day.

The only exception is that the kids area at The Newsroom can be booked at weekends to avoid families queuing for this much smaller space.

How do I unfreeze my membership?


If your membership was frozen during lockdown it will be automatically restarted on your first visit back. If you know when you will make your first visit (approximately) we would like to encourage members to request your unfreeze in advance via My TCA. This will mean that we can process the reactivation remotely without the need for any interaction at the reception.

Requesting to be unfrozen in advance will save you having to speak to staff on your first visit and will minimise queuing time for all. If you are unsure, then just alert staff on your first visit back.

Will holds be washed more often?

No. Due to practical limitations, hold cleaning will continue at its normal rotation. We have provided disinfectant dispensers throughout our centres and encourage all customers to regularly clean their hands. Good hand hygiene, before, during and after the climbing session is, therefore, the primary means of managing the potential smear infection risk posed by climbing holds. We will publish the calendar for resets over time.

Will liquid chalk kill coronavirus?

Liquid chalk is not a replacement for hand sanitiser or thorough hand-washing. You may wish to use it as a back-up (especially if over 70% alcohol). You will be able to purchase liquid chalk from the TCA shop. Please ensure it has dried completely before climbing. Whilst we are encouraging the use of liquid chalk, particle chalk will NOT be banned. Please mark your bottle/tube clearly so that it is not picked up by someone else and avoid leaving hard objects on the mats.

Do I need to bring my own hand sanitiser?

No. You may bring your own sanitiser – which must have an alcohol content of over 70%, although TCA will have hand sanitiser available from multiple locations throughout centres.
We encourage our customers to use the available sanitiser – or thoroughly wash their hands with soap – as often as possible on arrival, throughout your session, especially if changing climbing areas and before leaving.

Are centres ventilated?

TCA will ensure all sites are ventilated as much as possible with the systems we have in place. This will include making sure fans and extraction are always on and turned to an appropriate level. All available and appropriate doors and windows will be left open to encourage airflow.

When is the quietest time in your centres?

In a recent survey of our climbers, over 70% indicated that they intend climbing at the same time, on the same days as they used to. So while we cannot yet confirm, we expect mornings to remain the quietest time of day. If you would like to climb but you would prefer to have fewer people around you, we would recommend trying to be flexible with the time of day you attend. Weekday evenings are always our busiest time. If you have any leeway, please think about varying your attendance times to help ease congestion. We will be trialling a new capacity tracker which will be visible on our website – more info in due course.

Will you be open at the same time as you used to?

To help us manage staffing and budgets, our opening times may vary from previous patterns.  We will announce this in due course.

How is TCA managing social distancing?

• The distance between staff and customers will be managed using clear signage and markings.
• Screens will be in place to protect our staff and customers at till points.
• There is an expectation on all customers to observe social distancing with other customers in the building. This will be communicated to all our customers via email, social media and posters throughout our centres.
• Groups that require closer interaction, such as beginners lessons or classes for young children, will not initially be run. Only groups where we are confident that social distancing can be respected will be restarted.

Do I have to wear a mask when climbing?

POLICY UPDATE (11/09/20) Wearing a face covering is now mandatory in all areas except the climbing/gym spaces and when seated at a table in the cafe. Before removing a face covering and putting it on, customers should sanitise their hands to avoid contamination. You do not need to replace your mask in between climbs. Time on the mats is considered active climbing time. 

Will you be running groups, clubs and lessons?

When we first open we will not be running groups (adult or children). We will run selected groups under the appropriate guidelines as soon as we possibly can and we will provide notice of this to customers. The roped climbing area at the Prop Store will also be closed initially.

I have a pass, so can I bypass the queue?

No. Because we will have to manage the capacity of the centre closely, the queuing system will apply to all users of the centre. Join the queue on arrival (if there is one) and when it’s your turn, scan your card using the express check-in scanner for entry.

Where can I buy entry online?

To help minimise congestion at tills, we are asking visitors to buy entry online, where possible. There are a number of ways to do this. Punch cards are pre-paid visits. You can buy them in 5s or 10s and they can be used anytime. You can also sign up for pre-paid passes online. You find out about the options on our prices page. This could be via a rolling monthly payment or a time-limited pass, e.g. 1 month or 1 year.  To buy passes or punch cards online click on the links below:

Choose your preferred centre. Please note that choosing one centre just helps us to keep track of users. Your pass or punch card will be valid in all TCA centres.

The Mothership
The Newsroom
The Church
The Prop Store

NB. Off-peak and multi-month passes are currently only available at reception.

As an external instructor or coach can I just turn up with a group?

No. All external group leaders must contact TCA in advance of attending one of our centres to discuss whether this is possible for their group. We will not provide entry to any groups that turn up without booking.

I’m concerned about social distancing in toilets and changing areas, what are you doing about that?

We are asking all climbers to come ready to climb. The more people who do this, the less congestion we’ll have in these spaces. Where available, accessible toilets will provide a socially distant space for changing. Where possible please avoid bringing excessive belongs into centres and always use the lockers provided – keeping walkways clear.

Will children’s classes be running as usual?

Classes for under 11s will not recommence initially although adults (who climb) may still bring children and supervise them as usual.

What will happen to lost property now?

Once identified, lost property will be returned to customers in a sealed and dated plastic bag. The customer should then quarantine the item for 3 days before being opened. Storage space is already limited in centres and with more climbers bringing their own water, we are likely to have more lost property. Please make every effort to take your belongings home with you.

Will your cafe be open?

Our cafes will open in accordance with government advice at the time of opening. More info TBC.

Will TCA only be open to non-members initially?

We are not placing limits on who can climb. While we can’t predict numbers precisely, many of our climbers have indicated that they will reduce their frequency of attendance or not return. With leaving times varying for all climbers, we do not expect that you will have to queue for a very long time. We will, of course, review this over time and it may change.

Can I sit in the cafe without paying in?

We are operating a reduced capacity to enable everyone in the building to social distance. We therefore need everyone to check-in. We want to maximise the number of climbers in the building, so if someone is sitting in the café, they are taking up a space that a climber with a pass could be using. We are keen to avoid having climbers waiting at reception. Therefore, currently, we are asking all visitors to pay for entrance whether they are climbing or not. This may change as we move forward. We can provide take away food and drink for those customers wanting to just use the cafe.


Any more questions?

If your question is not answered above or on our new guidelines page, you can submit a question by emailing Helen. Please add “QUESTION” in the subject line. Almost all staff are currently furloughed, so we cannot guarantee an immediate answer, but we will work through them as soon as we can.

Get ready to climb

Please make sure you have read and familiarised yourself with our new guidelines before coming back to climb. This will all seem second nature after we’ve been doing this for a week or two. We look forward to seeing you back.