Bouldering is a great variation on the sport of rock climbing and is an ideal introduction to some of the techniques and skills you’ll need to master if you intend to take up rock climbing as a serious hobby. As it’s also conducted at low height, the risks are far less intense so it’s a great way for those who may like the idea of rock climbing but are a bit unsure and for younger climbers to get started as well as those who just prefer the activity in its own right over traditional climbing.
Where Does Bouldering Take Place?
Bouldering takes place in a variety of places such as overhanging rocks and sections of cliff which are usually no more than 3 to 5 metres from the ground. It is also practised within indoor climbing gyms – a prominent reason why more children have taken up the sport and it’s an ideal activity to improve your technique as well as building up strength and to learn useful techniques of climbing.
What Does it Involve?
It mainly focuses on a much shorter sequence of moves as opposed to traditional rock climbing which is more aimed at endurance. The emphasis is on purely power, strength and technique which is why it’s a great way to quickly pick up skills that could be transferred to more traditional climbing although many ‘boulderers’ simply stick to this method of climbing as an activity in its own right. The types of climbs undertaken, which can be carried out solo or in groups, are quite short in nature and can often be quite a puzzle to work out which is why it’s a great mentally provoking activity as well as being good physical exercise.
Why is it Safer Than Traditional Climbing?
Because it’s an activity which is performed at a much lower height, there is less risk of injury due to falls. Climbers tend to carry a portable crash mat with them just in case of falls but because they’re climbing at no higher than around 5 metres, then injuries from falls are a rare occurrence. There are often also people referred to as ‘spotters’ who are used to direct climbers towards the crash mat in the event of a fall whilst also ensuring that the climber’s head keeps away from any potential hazards.
What Equipment Do I Need?
Apart from a crash mat, there is relatively little equipment involved which is a further reason why the sport is so popular and can be taken up without it involving a lot of expense. You may also want to invest in a decent pair of climbing shoes to help with traction and edging and many boulderers will also carry a set of different sized brushes in order to clean holds, some of which can be of a telescopic nature to clean those holds that are a bit higher up. They’ll also carry powdered chalk to keep their hands dry which helps them to maintain a better grip on the holds as well as wearing sports tape which enables them to carry on with the activity even if they’ve suffered from any cuts and blisters as a result of bouldering.
The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has its own website which will give you more information about how you can get into bouldering near to where you live and there are plenty of other useful resources on the internet which will give you further information.