Bouldering is a subform of Rock Climbing. It’s climbing little pieces of rock formations, also known as boulders, that’s about 3-8 meters or higher, without a harness or rope.
The boulder (route) can lead you to the top of a boulder or it can be a traverse where you climb from the left to right or vice versa. At the end of a boulder, ideally you will be standing on the ground again, or you jump on your crash pad with a soft thud. If it sounds different, you might have broken your ankle. Check if any bones are jutting out.
You’ll need shoes, chalk, a crash pad and sometimes a spotter if your boulder moves causes you to fall awkwardly. You don’t actually need lots of equipment to start, but shoes does help with some friction, chalk with better grip and the crash pad with more protection when falling.
We are sport climbers from head to toe. But last winter, I was looking for quick and dirty sessions outdoors, to go with little time and cold temperatures. And it had to work in winter too. The printer (no, it wasn’t google search) printed out these words:
- you’re always on the move. You avoid long belay times.
- You don’t need a partner. Ideal on days when you can ‘t find anyone else who has time like you do.
- All you need is a pair of climbing shoes, chalk-bag, and a crash pad to get going. Of course girls, if you’re meeting up with prince charming in the woods, you’ll need a pair of sexy boulder pants too. And don’t forget your toothbrush.
- It’s a quickie. Arrive at the scene, boulder, pack up and leave. It’s as simple as that. Bouldering is a game of maximal strength. Unless you fall asleep on your crash pad, you’re physically faster done than when climbing.
How to start bouldering
If you’ve never bouldered before, it’s a good thing to start in the boulder indoor gym. You’re more likely to meet like-minded people who can give you tips and betas on technique and movement. Just go. No need to know anything. (uhh, btw. did you know that some big city gyms even advertise for “singles night”? ) Socializing and observing the others is a good game to play. Usually, a few boys and girls can also work out on the same boulder. That’s where the conversation starts. How would you do this? Is this a better way…? If I do this could I … ? Many questions. Many solutions. You could also take up one of the courses there to learn the basics right.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you might feel ready to conquer the outdoor world of boulders. There is actually no time to tell when it’s right. It just happens. To boulder outdoors, it’s good to know what you need, so that you don’t come back with a broken ankle or wrist. Take along a few points about how to boulder without making the landowners and foresters hate you at the boulder areas and you’re ready. Or perhaps, you might find it ideal to stay just in your indoor gym. It’s so comfortable and safe! This or that, there are advantages and disadvantages. Whichever way you choose the most important rule is to have F-U-N.
Outdoors? That sounds so much more like made for me.
So stay on with me, I’ll be covering some of my experiences I’ve had on bouldering this season with the next posts.
Coming up next:
- Stepping into a bouldering world (Part 1)
- → Choosing the right crash pad for bouldering (Part 2)