Bouldering outdoors – do it right

Ever freaked out trying to do such a boulder?

Make bouldering work in your comfort zone

Bouldering is an easy game. A pair of shoes, chalk bag, crashpad and off you go. Alone or with your friends. Long belay times are non-existent. You can boulder in the gym or outdoors. While a gym offers you all the premises to fall safe, you’re on your own outdoors.

Motivation plays a big game for some of us. By pushing (verbally) the boulderer you help them forget their fear and untie the knot for a few seconds to push to their utter limits. You’d be so surprised that something that couldn’t work for a long time, could then happen.

You can also push them up physically. Some holds are too tiny to hold, or perhaps the move is impossible to make. With some support by pushing your partner gently as he/she moves, you take off also a few kilogrammes off the fingers to reach a hold or try solve a move. Often, you will find the next try to be much better than the last. Because you know what to expect. Isn’t it so that we all have this fear of falling and hurting yourself because the move is so hard?

“A good spotter is better than any crashpad”  

Wise words. Spotting your boulder friend helps tremendously bring the fear down to a minimum. Isn’t it a safe feeling to know that you will be falling in someone’s arms? Ok, cut the romantic. It is almost like the feeling a rope gives you when you climb. Security. To know that someone is standing behind you, taking care that the crashpads are all in place and that you will always fall soft.

Soft? Priceless!

Moonwalk in Sundergrund

Solve problems: You don’t have to be shy about asking for beta. Unless you want to onsight the boulder. If you are keen about getting a boulder to work quick, you could ask someone who has done the boulder how to work off the crux. Start slow and easy.

If you happen to have just one crash pad with you, instead of the 20 we often see at a boulder with a crowd, then your mate/spotter will be the one pulling the pad after you. Ensuring your safety. This is the second important function of the spotter, looking after the crash pad that you don’t fall right next to it. Some areas are jutty, with sharp rocks or are full of bulging tree roots. Better not fall in there.

Its all about crash pads: The crash pad is the biggest and most expensive gear you will have to invest on. The alternative is, you can look for someone who has a pad or two. Bouldering without a pad is possible too. Leveled, sandy areas or the ones with a bed of pine needles are great to land on. But please, do it gently. In the 90-ties, crashpads never existed. We seldom heard that someone came back then with broken ankles than we do today.

Once you’ve topped your boulder, GREAT JOB! Now what? It pays to check this out too before you start scaling the rock. How do you come down again without hurting yourself. Often, we don’t see topping off as a problem until we are up there.

Different types of rock

… adds spice to your boulder. It changes also the style and the way how you boulder. And where you would travel to. There are countless of guidebooks to buy and get all the information that you need. Here are some examples of different areas and rock:

Bouldering in Frankenjura

It’s not a big secret that there are boulders in Frankenjura! In fact, it has a great number of boulders with lots of amazing problems and rocks. Sandstone, granite, limestone … in abundance. But the internet spills no secrets to where they are.

Why? There are no existing publications or official documentation on the internet, because of the “Boulderappell” in Frankenjura. It’s a little complicated but I can sympathize with the locals, private landowners and farmers that faces problems from mass tourism visits that result in rubbish, noise and wild camping. Is it that bad? Yes, if it comes in crowds and loads. We have seen enough areas closed due to this problems.

But all isn’t lost. It takes some patience and lots of time to research and search. With the right antennas and right tip, you will find them – just like how it worked in the good old days.

So the secret to the secret is out. Keep your eyes and ears open. Be social, be nice and communicate by word of mouth.
And leave no trace.

Bouldering in the Bavarian Alps and Tyrol

There are dozens of areas in the Alps and Voralpen to boulder in. These places lay often at the foot of a mountain, building the remains of what’s left of a rock avalanche once. Kufstein, Zillertal, Kochel, the Bavarian Voralps and Tirol, are just some of the areas with abundance boulders.

Some boulder areas lie high off, taking about 2-4 hours of a sweaty hike before you reach the area. If you’re lucky, there s the cable car at your disposal. At Silvretta or the Blau Eis Hütte you can also sometimes rent a crash pad at one of these huts.  (Please enquire first!) Why not stay the night and enjoy the mountain panoramic setting in the evenings. Forget the worries of getting back to your car late.

Bouldering in Europe

Rocklands in Africa, Albarracin in Spain, Fontainebleau in France, Val di Mello in Tessin, Zillertal in Austria, South Tyrol or Ailfroide in the French Alps are unbelievable places to travel to. They all lay in a beautiful setting.  The Canary Islands a good spot to boulder in winter. The yearly bouldering competitions take place annually at Mogan. Again, boulder crash pads are available for rental in the local climbing shops at astounding prices.

Ailfroide in Val Durance, France

Our impact

Climbing and bouldering are one of the sports that brings you out in the nature. It’s like a microadventure whenever we set out to boulder. Some of these places are endangered due to wrong behavior. Our behaviour have a big impact on the environment and on the locals who live there. Treat them both with respect.  Know and Go by the rules. When you play the game outdoors, play it right.

The Access Fund  is an organisation which advocates for climbers and climbing areas in America. They developed a special pledge which I found to be useful:  The Pact. It doesn’t matter where you are on this globe, these “Rules” will always apply.

Happy bouldering!

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