One of the many disciplines within the rock-climbing community is bouldering. It, in essence, is free-climbing with a focus on explosive power. Meaning, no harness, no belay, just you – and the wall. Climbers within the bouldering realm are usually lean and ripped, a solid clump of chiseled clay ready to charge the wall.
To those of you that may not already already know, the way the climber ascends the wall is the “route.” This will be a series of different handholds, footholds, crimps, and other portions of rock (or rock-like at the gym_ surfaces which provide the climber a way to keep themselves glued. The routes, at least in the sake of a gym, will be composed of the same color holds to give the climber either an easier or harder climb to the top. Routes are rated (or ranked) on their difficulty on many different metrics – from the type of holds, the incline of the wall, distance between holds, and overall length of route. Most commonly, to simplify the rating of a route, they’ll use a number based system – being a V or Font scale. These scales will allow climbers to adequately jugde the intensity by which they want/have to climb. V0 is your absolute beginner and V9 is a seasoned practitioner ready to take on any wall.
These routes include mini-combinations of moves commonly referred to as “problems.” Problems need to be climbed using a specific series of footwork and handwork combinations in order for the climber to solve them. This hold true for the harder routes in which there isn’t a lot of room for improv whereas the easier routes may have many different moves to be climbed. For beginning climbers to have a better chance, more often than not the experience boulderers will give movement tips, known as “beta.” Talked about with an almost relentless amount, “beta” can be gleaned from watching others or climbing a route yourself. Beta itself is just the series of movements used to accomplish a route.
Now that I’ve been bouldering longer, I’ve started to notice smaller life-lessons to be gleaned from the community at large. At first glance, most members of a climbing gym or climbing wall look “dirt-baggish.” Typically longer – usually unkempt hair, baggier clothes that may or may not have been washed this last week, and an a casual way of doing everything. This all holds true until they hit the wall. Once a climber hits the wall, it’s game on. No more sitting, hoping, waiting, or wishing – it’s the struggle.
There’s lots of planning in climbing. The use of beta, watching others hit route, and figuring out how you feel about that day all contribute to the planning. Many times this can be a good thing, as it provides insights for people climbing the route next. But in line, too much planning can also lead to self-destruction. You start getting inside your head, asking millions of questions, maybe coming across a reason you can’t surmount a task now…
And this can attribute to you not achieving your goals. Don’t get me wrong, having a solid plan is great, but over planning can be detrimental. So taking action will win at the end of the day. Having a solid plan with be good to guide you toward a goal, but taking action will get you there. A fine balance of planning and action should be made so as to conquer the task. Being flexible on little details on how to get to a goal, but constantly taking action to move towards it – that will ultimately win the day!
Circling back to bouldering, each climber needs to be game on when they’re on the wall. They have their endgoal in mind, but are working within a small area of themselves. If they start to focus on moves too far ahead, they could jeopardize where they’re currently at. If they start looking back, they could completely loose track of where they were headed in the first place. It’s important to take action, be driven on the end goal, and tackles the problems closest to you at the time.
While there are activities I enjoy far more than bouldering, it’s a stellar way to improve your focus and adaptability to certain situations. Plus, it’s a fun way to work out! So, if you’re looking on picking up a new hobby or just want to try something different, bouldering may be for you.
So, the reason bouldering was the topic today is that Rockfish Climbing and Fitness had a competition today. It was fun to watch – for a bit anyway. But hitting the wall definitely beats sitting around watching people… Here’s a short 3:30 min vid that gives a little bit of footage from the climbs and a couple reasons why you should maybe try bouldering.
What’s your favorite hobby? Have you tried bouldering? Lemme know!
EDIT (29 April 2018):
Here’s three pieces of gear I use to get on the wall
Prana: Zion Stretch pants –https://amzn.to/2HAg9eb
I like these as they are very mobile and made for full range of motion. They aren’t exactly cheap, but they are very sturdy.
Mad rock climbing shoes – https://amzn.to/2r8t5h0
While all your climbing shoes are going to be uncomfortable, they are a great thing to have due to super-grippy rubber on the toes and heels, plus on the top of the foot for when you get into odd positions
Friction Labs Chalk – https://amzn.to/2HxMh1Y
Climbing chalk is a dime a dozen and is made to all sorts of different specs. I like the super fine stuff that basically is like breathing in a coal mine. This particular brand sticks to the hand well and provides a nice dry hold.