Boulders

MY MONTH AS A BOULDERER

I have been a route climber for as long as I can remember. I had my baptism of fire on a tough route in the Blue Mountains when I was a teenager, and since them I have scrambled my way up routes in Tasmania, Booroomba, and the Glass House Mountains. But after years of tying ropes and hanging off sheer rock faces, I decided to give bouldering a try. My motivation was because I was in the gym looking to put on a little more weight, and bouldering suited this lifestyle far better than route climbing.

Fast forward a month and I have a far clearer perspective of the differences between the two applications. I realise that I knew very little about bouldering before. I assumed it would be similar to route climbing, but found things to be so different it was almost like learning an entirely new sport again.

I FEEL BETTER FOR IT

I love route climbing, but after spending a day on the crags, I would wake up the following morning with a slightly queasy feeling. It would go away fairly quickly, but it repeatedly happened. I can only assume it was caused by the intense strain put on my muscles for such a long, sustained period of time while route climbers scramble to summit.

With bouldering, I wake up feeling fine. The short bursts of energy are complemented by plenty of breaks and time to recover and regain my thoughts in between problems suits me much better. It also complements my busy home-life spent running around after two kids. I have more energy than I ever did route climbing.

THE COOL KIDS ARE BOULDERING

The bouldering way of life involves far more Instagramming, Facebooking, and Tweeting than its traditional counterpart. People interact in the virtual sphere a lot more in the bouldering world, and I suddenly found I had virtual friends for the first time in my life. My phone was blowing up with likes and comments. I had become one of the cool kids I used to ridicule, and don’t tell anyone, but it felt awesome.

I HAD TO SPEND MORE TIME USING MY BRAIN ON A PROBLEM

There are two sides to this debate, and I can definitely see both sides. Before I say anything controversial I want to emphasize, this is just my opinion from my experiences. But I think that bouldering involves more thought that traditional route climbing. The problems posed are often more complex and require more technique than route climbing. I found myself thinking about the problem a lot more, whereas on routes previously I would have just dived in and given it a go.

I’M GETTING MORE UPPER BODY STRENGTH

But, saying that, many boulderers can get out of trouble on brute strength alone. In the month I have been bouldering, I have increased my explosive power and upper body strength. I have found a couple of instances where I have used this increased strength the just haul myself out of danger.

I am still exploring the other side to our sport and enjoying it more with each passing day. I will eventually go back to traditional, “normal” climbing, but I think I need some more time to fully explore the bouldering sport with all of its quirks, and different ways of life.

 


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Oli Ward
oli@dinga.com.au

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.