You might have watched a bouldering competition before, and you might have assumed that such competition was a challenging competition. Well, it would surely be, and it was not meant for the weaklings. Nevertheless, bouldering is fulfilling. Many best climbers engage in bouldering for the sake of enjoying it rather than to compete. Moreover, it is a more accessible type of climbing and requires minimal or no gear at all.
Bouldering is a rock-climbing form done on artificial rock walls or small rock formation without using harnesses or ropes. You may do it without equipment, yet, it is best done with chalk for keeping your hands dry, climbing shoes for securing footholds, and bouldering mats to assuage the impact of a fall. Six meters of rock walls is all you need to engage in bouldering.
One such bouldering problem is the traverses. It requires the climber to move horizontally on the rock wall from one end to another end. You can engage in bouldering, either outdoor or indoor. For example, artificial walls let boulderers engage in indoor bouldering in locations bereft of natural boulders.
Facts You Should Know About Bouldering
Bouldering, as a sport, was initially done to train climbers on roped climbs and mountaineering. It was designed to let climbers practice climbing moves without the dangers involved in an actual mountaineering situation. It allows climbers to gain experience and learn specific moves above the ground at a safer distance.
Of course, bouldering became a distinct discipline in the 20th Century, and bouldering problems are rated based on their difficulty. The most common rating systems for bouldering are the Fontainebleau scale and the V-scale.
Bouldering, traditionally, was informal. In the past, boulderers worked out problems by pushing themselves to their abilities’ limits. Afterward, they would challenge their peers to redo what they had accomplished. At present, however, many modern climbing gyms hold more formal competitions. Moreover, the IFSC or the International Federation of Sport Climbing requested the inclusion of climbing competitions in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Indoor Bouldering: The Best Way to Start Bouldering
As a beginner, you don’t need to engage in outdoor bouldering, which may be dangerous to you. It would be best to start with indoor bouldering. At least, with indoor bouldering, you will have a controlled environment with matted floors and chunky grips.
The indoor climbing gyms come with sociable atmospheres and replete with likeminded people who are desirous of improving their bouldering skills in an enjoyable way. Moreover, the levels of difficulties in specialized climbing gyms provide increasing difficulties of problems, allowing you to make a smooth transition from easy to difficult problems.
You will find boulder problems spanning up to 15 feet. Yet, these problems come with crash pads and stay closer to the ground. Besides, bouldering may sometimes overlap with other climbing sports, and its definition may be a bit restrictive.
As mentioned above, a boulder problem might be 15 feet long, which may resemble those of the different climbing sports’ routes. In some instances, some problems may come with bolts and may fall under sport climb. Moreover, some really tall boulder walls may come between free soloing and bouldering. Additionally, climbing gyms in the US usually have routes that come with colored tape to designate problem.
1) Gear: Ensure You have Good Shoes and Enough Chalk
The good thing about bouldering is that you would not need specialized gear and equipment than other climbing sports. You will only need chalk, a pair of suitable shoes for bouldering, plus a crash mat. Moreover, many bouldering gyms will provide you with a rentable kit, which is perfect if you’re just beginning to learn the rudiments of the sport.
Of course, you can buy your chalk bag and shoes online, and you won’t be needing specialized clothes. You would only need loose-fitting and comfortable clothes for free movement.
2) Sign Up for a Climbing Class or Boulder with Your Friends
Bouldering may be more exciting if you do it with friends. So, I would not hesitate to advise you to sign up for a climbing class with your friends. Yet, unlike mountain or roped climbing, you won’t be needing a belay partner in bouldering. However, if you are with your friends, someone will stay down to watch you and spot you when you tackle a problem.
Being with your friends while bouldering adds some fun and excitement to the activity. Moreover, your friends can encourage you further while you tackle some challenging boulder problems. If you got no one to accompany you in bouldering, I would recommend that you sign up for a bouldering class to get acquainted with other interested people in such an activity.
3) Be Familiar with The Usual Bouldering Problems
As a beginner, it will help if you are familiar with the following challenges that you will encounter when you begin to boulder:
a) Faces and Slabs
As you power your way along a problematic route, you will encounter a face which is a flat vertical surface. You will also encounter slabs, which is a flat-angled surface. You will need delicate footwork and technical skills to surmount these problems.
The overhangs are also referred to as roofs, made of relatively horizontal rock surfaces from the ground. They are those rock surfaces directly above your head. To tackle the overhangs, you would need enough power and strength.
Traverses are more often endurance tests, requiring sideway movements along a rock feature before you top out.
Highball is a term that is unique to bouldering. It is a problem that requires you to top out high off the ground. To tackle this problem, you will be required to be 20 feet or more above the ground. It is about the degree of risk and exposure presented by the problem, and for this reason, highballs are for experienced boulderers.
e) Compression problems
Compression problems require you to have a solid technique and excellent endurance. Compression problems would require you to hug a rock feature to climb a boulder.
f) Topping Out
Topping out is the final leg of bouldering problems. It is the last series of movements that you need to do to get you to the top of the boulder.
4) Learning How to Fall Well
You might assume that the fall from bouldering will not be that fatal because you are not too distant from the ground. Yet, such a fall will be risky, and for this reason, you need to know how to fall correctly. To assuage your fall, you should ensure that nothing is on your crashing pads when you fall.
Ensure that there is nothing that may cause you to have twisted ankles or broken wrists. The thing is, you should learn how to fall safely. The right way of falling is a skill, and it necessitates practice. When you fall, the trick is learning to go with the fall or the flow of the fall. Accept that you’re falling and stay engaged.
Don’t stiffen your body, but prepare for a good landing. Absorb the shock of your fall via your knees. Ensure that you land with your feet flat on the crash pad and your knees slowly bending to absorb the shock. Let your knees collapse, and then roll on your back or side if necessary. Stay relaxed on your landing, and don’t let your limbs to stay stiff.
Avoid landing with your hands or wrists absorbing the impact. Keep your arms away from the impact. Moreover, refrain from sticking the landing either. It will also help if you roll over, especially if you fall from the wall’s top. It would be best if you also tuck in your chin to avoid whiplash.
It will be useful to remember that you will experience various types of falls when you engage in bouldering, making you fall from different angles. It will help to stay relaxed, go with the fall, remain engaged, and avoid the caveats mentioned above when falling.
Bouldering is indeed a fun and fulfilling sport that would engage your whole being. According to Steve McClure, the top UK rock climber, it is also super simple, very social, and time-friendly. It is also the most accessible type of climbing that everyone can enjoy.
Yet, it is also fraught with risks that you can mitigate if you know the right way to fall and have the necessary gear like crash pads. Moreover, with very few essential gear, you can quickly start your bouldering activity and enjoy the thrill concomitant with bouldering, whether outdoor or indoor.