When it comes to rock climbing, there’s more than one way to do it. If you've ever asked the question "What is bouldering?", here is your answer.
Bouldering is one of the most popular ways of climbing, which involves using a minimal amount of gear to climb up a hill or formation, and it can even be done indoors. Keep reading for specifics, pros, cons, and everything else you’ll need to know before you go bouldering. It may also help you figure out if it’s something you want to do.
What is Bouldering
Essentially, bouldering is rock climbing without using harnesses and ropes. This makes it a simple way to climb, but it also has a bit more danger to it, since there are fewer safety precautions that you’re taking. Bouldering can be done indoors or outdoors, and involves lots of decision making.
Types of Bouldering
Outdoor bouldering is more of a risk, since there are many rock formations in nature that you can climb. Although they are there for anyone to climb, everyone isn’t cut out for approaching them using this method. They may have uneven edges and no good places to put your hands and feet, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you only try the outdoor method if you are at a location that you’re familiar with or have climbed before.
If you’ve ever seen indoor climbing or rock walls, this is where indoor bouldering takes place. It involves finding the right hand and foot holds, so you don’t stumble. Many people feel that it helps with problem-solving, since you are forced to do a good job and keep climbing.
You may think that every choice can be life or death. In reality, it isn’t as dangerous indoors as it is when you do it outside. It isn’t really life threatening since the boulders should be around 10’ or less, no matter where you’re climbing.
Benefits of Bouldering
Helps your brain work out problems
Unlike other forms of exercise, bouldering helps you solve problems each time you move. You’ll have to get all of your body parts in the right place, or else you will fall. This is something that can help your brain make faster connections, and can allow you to become a better overall climber. You’ll be put on the spot many times, where you’ll have to decide to move quickly or to slow down and think of a plan. This is a great thing for your brain to do, and it is more exciting than other types of exercising as well.
Doesn’t need a lot of equipment
You don’t need a lot of equipment to climb this way, since you will be doing it without harnesses and things like that. However, you will still need the proper clothing, as well as a comfortable and sturdy pair of climbing shoes. This can save you a lot of money in the long run, since you won’t have to buy a ton of extras.
Can add safety measures
Even though there are a lot of items you won’t need, it doesn’t mean you can’t add a few safety features of your own. It is recommended that you climb with a friend, and possibly have someone on the ground as well, in case something unfortunate happens. There are also special mats you can get which will be able to cushion your fall if you take a plunge, so you won’t become harmed.
Can be done inside or outside
Another great thing is that it can be done indoors or outdoors. This means you can get a group of friends together to climb and you won’t have to worry about the elements. You can go anytime of the year and still strengthen your skills, which allows for a bit more freedom.
Great form of exercise
It’s a great form of exercise because it works your core, as well as your arms and legs. It’s like a whole body workout that you can’t get in many other places. At the same time, you are learning a real-life skill that you may be able to use in an emergency situation.
Convenient for people who have no access otherwise
Since there are indoor centers that specialize in this, it is more accessible to everyone. There are some people who don’t have access to natural areas to climb, so it may be very handy to be able to still climb in a metropolitan area or city.
Great for different skill levels
In the case of indoor bouldering, there are often color coded boulders, to let the climber know where to start. The sizes and shapes correspond to skill sets, so you’ll know which ones to grab as a beginner, and so forth. This also helps you understand the shapes and sizes of boulders you want to grab onto in the future, especially if you start doing this activity outdoors.
Can be done in large groups
This is something that many people do in large groups because everyone can help each other learn and keep making good decisions. This is especially true in the indoor facilities, since there is less overall risk.
You can do it as much as you want
There’s no reason you can’t do this every weekend, if that’s what you want. The more you practice, the more experienced you’ll become, which may make you want to do it even more.
Dangers of Bouldering
Can be unsafe
Since many of the safety features are taken off the table, some people may regard this practice as unsafe. This is not always the case however, since you can get pads and make sure that you are with a group of people. Furthermore, if you do it in a controlled setting, there will be people overseeing you along the way that can help you and make sure that you don’t fail in your goal.
Outside areas may be slippery
If you have never done it before, it isn’t a good idea to start outside. You should visit indoor facilities to get a good feel for the sport, especially since there are a range of levels to use, from beginner to advanced, making it the perfect place to learn.
Can harm natural formations
Not only can rock formations change size, shape, and texture throughout the years, but if they are often used, it may ruin their integrity. That is why it’s important to only go bouldering in an area that is designed for it, or a place where people do it quite often. Then you’ll know that it’s safe to do in that area, and that it has been properly maintained.
Things To Know About Bouldering
Bouldering can be really difficult on your body. Even if you never fall or stumble, you still risk minor injuries. This includes things like scraped-up legs and arms, and broken skin on your fingers.
A great way to lessen injuries is to make sure that you stop and give yourself first aid if you need it, and use special chalk when you need to. It can help you get a better grip and keep you from sliding.
When you’re done for the day, you should also make sure your skin is clean and put on protective moisturizer to keep your hands from cracking or getting dry. Hands are often overlooked, but need to be taken care of since you have to use them every day.
You should also be aware that large groups make bouldering safer. For example, if you have a large group, it means there are more people to watch your back. They will be able to go for help, or catch you if you fall. At the very least, they can tell you if you are going off track or alert others that you need help while you’re climbing.
Besides just being able to solve problems, it can also change the way you think. You will start to understand that it isn’t just a matter of brawn, but of brain too. You have to make good decisions each time, especially as you move up from the lowest levels.
We hope that this article helped answering the question of what bouldering is. Here is a quick recap.
Bouldering is a form of climbing that doesn’t require a lot of equipment.
There are indoor centers you can practice in, or you can find a great place to climb outdoors. The other things that make it popular are that it can be done in large groups, it helps build your body and mind, and it’s cost efficient.
If you’re looking for a fun way to work out and you already love climbing, this is something that may interest you. There are many pros, as well as some cons, but overall, it’s something that can be done in a controlled environment, which lessens the risk. The fact that you can find a facility nearby in nearly any neighborhood is reason enough to look into this unique activity.