About ABC

The Association of British Climbing Walls is a not for profit members organisation – its run by its members for its members.

The ABC was set up in 1994 on an informal basis. Initially four climbing centres: Rope Race, The Rock Face, Undercover Rock and The Foundry got together to discuss issues facing the managers and owners of new style dedicated climbing centres.

In 1997 a decision was taken to formalise the discussions and meetings being undertaken into an association and open up the meetings to a wider audience. In October 1997 the first Secretary (Steve Taylor), Chairman (Paul Reeve) and Treasurer (Alan Ellison) were elected. The ABC became a Formal Company Limited by Guarantee. By December 1997,17 of the major climbing centres in the UK had joined as full members and started to contribute to advancing the ABC’s objectives.

In 2008 the ABC set up the Training Trust to run and administer NICAS – the National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme– this has now grown to have around 200 Awarding Centres to date.

Twenty years on and the ABC has grown to have over 135 members – and we aim to keep on growing. Membership is open to all walls – and also to associated trades who have something to offer the climbing wall industry.


The ABC’s aim’s are to:

  1. Have the majority of the UK commercial wall operators as members.
  2. Increase the number of public & education walls that are members.
  3. To be the public voice for the industry, lobbying the government and media on issues of industry value.
  4. To provide a wide range of member benefits that add value.
  5. Continuing to improve industry standards, promote safety and best practice.


  • The ABC believe that the membership guidelines outline the best practices that should be possible in all climbing centres. By promoting this, and offering real membership benefits, all commercial walls should want to be ABC members.
  • Many walls operate in non commercial circumstances. Sometimes these walls are part of larger facilities of larger organisations – where climbing and detailed knowledge of best practise do not always go hand in hand. The ABC has a vital role in helping these centres to recognise and achieve the best working practises and safety procedures for the users and staff. To this end the ABC has published its 10 point Code of Practice – 10 simple steps any wall can commit to.
  • As climbing grows in popularity so does its interaction with other organisations. The ABC seeks to help members develop a positive image for the industry and to promote the many benefits that climbing can offer to the end user and society.
  • Membership of an association should bring benefits for those members – ABC membership offers access to detailed information on best practise, a way to stay in touch with others in the industry, and a place to voice your opinion on how we move forward. The association is actively seeking to expand the range and type of benefits it offers members.
  • The ABC is now recognised as a primary authority on matters regarding the safe operation of climbing walls. The detailed guidelines available to members are the industry’s gold standard – and as an association we strive to keep improving them. 2014 has seen the launch of our Code of Practise – a simple 10 point plan that any wall can aspire to – simple steps to improve our industry.