What is bouldering you ask? Does it have something to do with rolling rocks down a hillside? Well no, but that’s kinda half right. It does have to do with rocks, BIG rocks!
Bouldering is a type of rock climbing that usually takes place well below 20ft. It is geared toward hard moves and technique instead of the endurance required for long sports or trad climbs. Some climbers boulder as a form of practice for higher and longer climbs. But there is a large group of climbers that choose bouldering as their main style of climbing.
Bouldering is one of the most intense and enjoyable workouts that you will ever experience. You really need to be in tune with your body and mind when you climb. There is a reason that they call bouldering routes “problems”. They may be short, but they require very specific and precise movements to complete them. You become very aware of your body position and your balance. The success of completing a hard problem keeps you motivated and coming back for more.
Bouldering is great, even for beginners, because it requires little investment in gear and less danger from a high fall than one could experience in other forms of climbing. It still holds its dangers, of course, like falling from six feet and hitting your head off of a rock. Ouch! But with proper safety, these kind of injuries can be avoided.
Most boulderers only have a chalk bag, a pair of climbing shoes, and a crash pad.
- The chalk is used for keeping ones hands dry. When your hands get sweaty or wet, climbing certain types of rock can become very difficult.
- Climbing shoes are made with special rubber that is durable and sticky in comparison to your everyday kicks.
- A crash pad is a thick piece of foam that works great for softening your fall. Even though you may not be very high above the ground, many times your body is horizontal, or even upside-down. Falling from those positions can be dangerous on rough terrain without a pad.
Bouldering connects you with nature. Of course you can boulder indoors at most climbing gyms, there are even huge gyms dedicated specifically to bouldering, but bouldering outdoors is where the magic happens. It’s a time where you can leave behind technology and your everyday worries. It’s a time to take in the world around you. And it’s a great way to connect with the raw physical forces of the universe. Man, one with rock.
Bouldering is also a great way to meet new and interesting people. In the short amount of time that I have spent climbing I have found that other climbers are some of the friendliest and most helpful people that I have met. You could be climbing a new route and someone that you never met will begin giving you encouragement and suggestions. The passion for climbing is a glue that quickly builds bonds between fellow climbers.
Believe it or not, there are tons of great bouldering and climbing videos out there. Most of them are also made using great style and technique. For bouldering specific videos check out www.modump.com. For all kinds of climbing videos check out www.ucmag.tv. You can also search climbing and bouldering on YouTube and Vimeo and find plenty of great videos!
Here is one of my favorite Vimeo videos by sébastien montaz-rosset:
Where to Boulder
There are many places to go bouldering around the country and around the world! You can start by finding a nearby climbing gym. It’s a great way to get some climbing experience and meet people that know where good outdoor climbing is available. This website, www.indoorclimbing.com, is a great reference for indoor gyms.
Unless you live in the middle of the Great Plains you are probably within a few minutes to a couple of hours of a great outdoor bouldering location. Do a web search for your area and climbing or bouldering to find information on great locations. Finding outdoor sites is where those friends you made at the gym can come in handy :) Oh, yeah, and remember to obey trespassing laws. Do not climb on private property without written permission!
Traventure Down South
The South East is a great area for winter climbing. In fact that is where my friend Nick and I are going this week. The temperature will be in the low 50s during the day and dip into the low 30s at night. The colder the temperature, the better the friction on the rock. We are going to go to Little Rock City in Tennessee and Horse Pens 40 in Alabama. We are super exited to climb outdoors and meet some great people. We will probably also check out some of the sites in Chattanooga and perhaps Birmingham. So make sure to check back this week for posts, pictures and maybe some video :)
Call to action!!!
Stop sitting around and plan your first climbing experience!!! See you on the rocks!
*Note: The photos of climbers used on this site come from Google Images. I do not own the rights to them and I’m using them for illustration only. If you find that I am using your photos and you would like me to take them down, please let me know. If not, send me your name and website and I’ll give you credit. Thanks in advance :)