About ClimbUp

ClimbUp Bristol is a registered charity that provides the opportunity for young people to engage in the sport of rock climbing. The aim is to immerse the individual into the world of rock climbing and the vibrant community surrounding the sport and to offer a new and positive outlook on life.

Who we are

The ClimbUp team are all experienced climbers who believe passionately in the sport's ability to change and enhance a young person's life. All our mentors have many years of climbing knowledge and experience of working with young people, both in a group and one to one situation.

What we do

ClimbUp Bristol students will be assigned to an experienced ClimbUp mentor. The mentor will introduce the new students to climbing at one of Bristol's four indoor climbing walls. The sessions will usually be one-to-one and will take place once a week for up to two hours. The sessions will above all be fun and safe and will aim to captivate the students so that life's other issues can be left to one side. As the sessions progress it is hoped that the students will become completely engaged with the support and will develop new friendships, skills and confidence.

Positive outcomes

Climbing has been shown to be a particularly powerful mechanism for guiding young people through the troubles of life. ClimbUp Bristol has provided courses to over 20 students with some positive results.

Who We Help

ClimbUp Bristol works with 9-16 year olds. Our students may have been going through a difficult period in their lives; some of our students have been excluded from mainstream education, others have desperately wanted to climb but have been unable to afford it. ClimbUp Bristol has also been beneficial to young people with diagnosed Asperger's Syndrome.

The Benefits of Climbing

There are many examples of individuals who have built a new confidence in body and mind through climbing. Key attributes of climbing that make this such a unique and potentially life changing sport are:

  • Trusting in other people
  • Accepting that others trust in you
  • Setting and achieving personal goals
  • Becoming strong and fit and gaining confidence in your body
  • Raising self esteem
  • Problem solving
  • Creating a new friendship group
  • Gaining an appreciation and respect for the outdoors

Meet Our Non-Profit Team

Here are some of the passionate members of the ClimbUp team.

James Marshall

James Marshall

Although James was not a youngster when he discovered climbing, he soon made a big impact on the Bristol climbing scene. Not only has he achieved a high level of climbing he has also generously supported climbers working up the grades with encouragement, advice and friendship.

It was James' awareness of the positive impact that climbing can have on people's lives that led him to found ClimbUp in 2015. His aim is to make climbing accessible to young people who may not have the opportunity to access the climbing community through mentoring and support from experienced climbers.

James is also a trustee for a large charity based in the north of England.

Annie Rowley

Annie Rowley

Annie discovered climbing when she was required to do a belay course in order to take her son climbing at the local climbing centre. However she soon got the bug herself and has been climbing at every opportunity ever since.

Annie not only realized the benefits for herself in terms of challenging her skills, fitness and developing a whole new group of friends but also saw her son increase in confidence in his climbing and his ability to make new friends and share his passion for the rock.

Annie became involved in ClimbUp following a career working in the further education sector working with hard to reach young people. She strongly believes that climbing can help give young people confidence and self esteem not only at the wall but in life in general.

Tom Palmer

Tom Powell

Tom has been working with young people and adventurous activities for over five years. He believes that with time, and the right environment everyone has the opportunity to flourish and grow. Tom studies different forms of effective communication, and uses his practice to help young people feel safe and build confidence at their own pace.  Tom has been climbing for over 10 years and living in a world of rock climbing has transformed his life. He has since seen how climbing and other such sports can transform the lives of others and Tom works to share this transformation with anyone who is ready to take on the challenge.

Ollie Benzie

Ollie Benzie

Ollie has been climbing since he was young and has himself benefited from what the sport can offer.  Climbing has taken him to many places around the world and he has spent a lot of time on the cliffs local to Bristol searching out historic and forgotten lines. Climbing has led to many friendships that have been beneficial to who he is.  Ollie is also a teacher in Bristol and is looking forward to having the chance to offer something back to the wider climbing community. 


Young people in the Bristol area are referred to ClimbUp from a variety of organisations such as Alternative Education Providers, schools, social workers, hospital education, youth clubs etc. We work with young people from the age 9 to 16. If young people are willing to engage with ClimbUp we are happy to work with them. Our students do not necessarily need to have yet discovered the joys of climbing but just need to be enthusiastic and keen to 'give it a go'. Potential ClimbUp students will attend an initial taster session to assess the suitability of the programme

Click here to download a referral form.

Success Stories

Billy attends a Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH) school in Bristol and was referred by one of his teachers, himself a climber. Billy has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and suffers from low self-esteem and is not comfortable in social situations.

Understanding the climbing community and communication required for climbing, his referrer thought it a good environment for Billy to develop skills and confidence whilst undertaking a sport that would both benefit his problem solving and physical skills.

Initially Billy was quite apprehensive and felt outside his comfort zone. However, once he started to climb he was clearly enjoying the sessions and reluctant to stop, despite his sore hands telling him he should! Billy was enjoying both bouldering and roped climbing and even though he initially got a little frustrated by tying the correct knots, he persevered until he was able to tie into his harness independently and safely.

It was a huge boost to Billy's self-confidence when his friend joined him for the sessions. He was able to demonstrate the moves he had mastered and his understanding of safety requirements around climbing. Billy and Jack continued to climb together and were very supportive of each other and patient whilst one of them was climbing and the other was observing. They both were signed off by the climbing centre to attend an open climbing club on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, this session was too structured for their needs so ClimbUp continued to mentor them.

Billy and Jack have continued working with their ClimbUp mentor and have not only progressed in their climbing skills but have developed a very firm friendship, something that both boys had struggled with in the past. Undoubtedly their shared interested in climbing and the opportunity to attend sessions has helped this.

Feedback from the school has been positive with both boys undertaking their DoE award, using their climbing activities as part of their evidence. Attendance has improved at school and they are both showing more social awareness and confidence in and around school. In fact, they have become such a team that they have recently been congratulated by one of their teachers for stepping in to prevent a fight between other pupils in a very mature way.

The ClimbUp sessions and the relationship they have developed with their mentor has helped them develop their confidence to handle situations and their self-esteem both at school and whilst at the climbing wall. They are rightly proud of their achievements and ClimbUp will continue to support them with the next step being to face the challenge of outdoor climbing.


We are happy to receive referrals from any professional working with young people. Please complete the referral and email or send it to us (preferably email). We will try to respond within two working days to discuss the referral in more detail.

Click here to download a referral form.


Read what some of ClimbUp's users have to say about their experiences with us.

Hannah Slaney ClimbUp Ambassador

We are very pleased to announce that Hannah Slaney has agreed to be an Ambassador for ClimbUp. Hannah will be a brilliant role model for our young climbers as she has demonstrated how hard work and perserverance makes the dream come true.

Hannah is a local Bristol girl who despite only being 17 is having outstanding success with her climbing. Annie first met Hannah when she was climbing at Undercover Rock in Bristol more than ten years ago and it was obvious even then that Hannah would be someone to watch. More recently Annie met up with Hannah at one of her regular training sessions to find out what was happening with her climbing now.

When Hannah has some time in her busy schedule we are hoping she will be able to come along and say Hi to our students and offer them a couple of tips.

As the photo shows there is no chance of a rest period following her amazing achievement at the Junior British Bouldering Championships held in June where Hannah gained first place, but she did manage to take a break to answer some of Annie's questions.

How often do you train?
Five to six times a week with a mixture of climbing and also off wall training.

How do you manage to fit school work into your busy schedule?
Ha, ha - still trying to master that one. It requires a lot of planning and it means most of my free time goes to school work. I often have to train late in the evening or early morning.

Have you got one bit of advice to young people starting out and wanting to climb better?
When just starting out, the best way to improve is to just do lots of climbing. Every time you go to the wall you'll build up technique and strength just by experience. It’s also always more fun when you have someone to climb with too.

Where do you want to be in five years time in relation to your climbing?
I'm very competition focussed now and the time I get to climb outside is limited. In the future I would like to travel around the world and climb, there are so many places I want to visit.

Just one last question - do you have a lucky mascot you take to competitions?
Not a mascot as such but I will always paint my nails before an important competition!


Get in Touch

We would really love to hear from you. Whether its because you want to find out more, have someone you would like to refer to us, want to make a donation, or want to get involved. Whatever the reason DO get in touch!

14 Christchurch Road, Clifton,
Bristol, BS8 4EF


0117 973 9598