Written by: Trevor Cox
Bouldering is a physically demanding, extremely enjoyable, fancy word for climbing on rocks. It’s a sport that anyone can pick up, all ages, all skill levels. Bouldering is an amazing opportunity for people of all skill levels to get physically active, and to be challenged in nature. The difference between bouldering and rock climbing is that bouldering is normally performed, well, on boulders! It’s virtually rock climbing, without ropes, staying on lower heights, and generally climbing a specific route to conquer what is known as bouldering “problems”.
Bouldering is one of the easiest and most affordable sports you can participate in. Not to mention getting to enjoy the outdoors, and the great gifts that our natural surroundings and rock formations are for us! You’ll need a few things before you get started to make your bouldering adventures easier.
1. Climbing Shoes
These can range anywhere from $50-$250 dollars. I don’t recommend spending over $100 on shoes if you’re a beginner climber or boulderer, you just don’t need them! They really are important, the material they are made out of will just about grab onto any surface of rock, and catch the smallest of grains on a foothold.
2. Chalk and Container
Chalk is probably the cheapest, and definitely one of the most important things a climber can use. The general purpose of chalk is to keep your hands dry, so you don’t sweat and slip from the rock. You can find chalk anywhere from $1-$10.
3. Crash Pad
Crash pads are your only safety device while bouldering. You are not using ropes, so your potential for falling is increased dramatically. A crash pad is a 4-6 inch thick layer of dense foam, and about 3-4 feet long, by 2 feet wide. They range from $80-$150. I always recommend asking around or seeing if you can make your own!
Where can I Boulder?
I haven’t found a sport that makes me come more alive. I feel extremely blessed to have been able to walk 15 minutes down a trail near my house to find rocks that have been precisely placed there for me to climb on. If you aren’t quite as lucky, fear not! Boulders are just about everywhere. You can check out http://www.mountainproject.com/ for different locations around the world for bouldering. If you truly can’t find anything near you, go explore, and make your own boulders, or sign up for a membership at a local indoor climbing gym.
I’m Getting Better, What Now?
The great thing about boulders is the numerous routes you can find on them. Nearly all boulders in the U.S are rated on what’s called the Hueco Scale. Ratings are from V0 (Beginner) to V16 (Extremely advanced). There are always more opportunities to do harder problems and challenge yourself. I recommend joining an indoor climbing gym and working the bouldering problems. They are the absolute best for training and getting yourself to be a higher level climber. It’s a lot easier on your hands, and the climbs are built specifically to challenge you in all areas of climbing.
Bouldering is one of the most beneficial things you can do on this world. Not only physically, but for your mental sanity, and spiritual health. If you love the woods, and a good challenge, you will thrive in this sport. It’s also one of the best communities I have ever been able to be apart of. Don’t be fearful to ask someone for help, invite a friend, or jump on a boulder with some pros. Grab some shoes, some chalk, some form of safety pad, and head into the woods. Get lost for a while, climb on some rocks, but always remember, let’s protect the environment we are blessed to experience, pack out your trash, don’t vandalize the rocks, and respect the people around you. What are you waiting for? Get out there!