Go Bouldering

Posted by Lloyd on August 09, 2011
Mountain Climbing

There comes a time when your climbing partner doesn’t want to climb, parks are too far away, the crags are above your level, etc. So what’s the next best thing? Bouldering!

Bouldering is just that: find a big rock and climb it as you would a face or wall or crack or whatever. Boulders are the Mini-me of standard faces,
meaning they often have the same characteristics of the big climbs, but on a scaled-down level. Equipment is cheap and easy: shoes and a chalk bag,
preferably filled with chalk. You can get a bouldering “crash pad,” but that’s all peripheral tripe.

A good trust-worthy friend can act as a spotter and, in all actuality, you should NEVER climb without one. Proper positioning for the spotter is arms up, like you’re worshipping the sun, eyes on the climber, and one foot back to give support in the event of a fall. Catch the climber under the armpits as best you can and lower them to the ground. Don’t catch them in your arms, because it hurts and yes, I’ve done it, and it’s wrong.

Bouldering can improve your climbing a hundred-fold. By bouldering in thirty-minute sessions or so, you train your body and mind for anything you may encounter in the crags. Boulders represent the crux, or the hardest part of a climb and, by continuously climbing them; you are essentially practicing your moves in a crux.

This translates into increased strength and stamina on climbs above and below cruxes. After extended bouldering sessions, climbing a face will seem like a walk in the park, so to speak. I’ll go into more detail on climbing holds and such for boulders later (hint: they are the same one you use on the face).

Just remember, bouldering can give you a vast array of moves to utilize when you’re climbing. If you’re stuck somewhere, rather than powering past the problem, or even worse, quitting and never trying again, find a similar problem on a boulder and work it until you’ve got it down. I’m not sure about everyone else, but climbing to me should be graceful and economical, not jerky, tight, and clumsy. Try a boulder for practice, then hit your own personal crux with all the finesse you’ve attained from these sessions.

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