Bouldering is a form of rock climbing, taking place on a wall. You do not use ropes or harnesses when bouldering. On the floor, there may be mats to break your fall in case you take the fast route down. The boulders are numbered or have different colours, with levels from easy to Spiderman-level-challenge.
The sport of bouldering is growing popularity. This is easy explained, for in comparison to rock climbing, bouldering is easy accessible (it does not require a lot of training to start bouldering on your own) and you are not dependent on anyone else (to secure the line and prevent you from falling). You can boulder throughout the entire year in one of the many upcoming boulder facilities. Bouldering is a fairly low-cost sport: the entrance to the boulder facility is inexpensive and the sport does not a lot of equipment (just climbing shoes and some magnesium). The atmosphere in the boulder facilities is always very relaxed and welcoming: when you are stuck with a particular boulder, there is always someone around to help you out with advise or encouragement. Bouldering provides you with a full body work out while it feels like you are enjoying a huge playground for adults!
Helen and Nadine visit a boulder facility on a weekly basis, to try some tough new boulders. Nadine enjoys climbing with different friends thus collecting many different experiences. Helen can not help to enjoy seeing strong man struggling with a route which she can climb on pure skill in one attempt. After years of training and introducing many friends and colleagues to the sport, we have collected a couple of tips for when you start with bouldering:
- When you want to start a certain boulder, first try to visualise the route. When you are halfway a boulder, it may be difficult to see where you are supposed to go or the next grip may be hiding around the corner. It happens frequently that you realise you overlooked a grip, after you let go and are back with both feet on the floor.
- Use climbing shoes. If you do not own them, rent them at the boulder facility. With bouldering, you mainly use your toes and the edges of your feet. You want to have as much grip as possible and this will fail when you are wearing sneakers. When you step on a grip, try to stand on your toes. This way you have got grip and manoeuvrability.
- Make sure you trim your nails, we have never seen anyone finish a route with long gel nails. Place your hands well-considered and gentle as if the grip is made of glass.
- Do not go full power immediately, use a warm up and don’t overdo it: your body will indicate when it has had enough. Listen to prevent injuries. Train your fingers and forearms, these are usually the week spots regarding strength. You can use a Gripmaster for this.
- Your legs are stronger than your arms, so try to use this strength by placing your foot straight under the boulder. Bending your arms is mostly a waste of energy, try to keep them as straight as possible.
- Always have an eye for safety. Never climb across the route someone else is climbing. Do not walk underneath climbing people and keep your distance. Also be aware: what goes up must come down at some point. Know your limits!
- Go bouldering with different people: people who challenge you, who are stronger, who have more technique or who are very competitive. Watch and learn! Feel free to ask for advise from experienced climbers. Most of them enjoy to show you their skills.
- Go for it! You will not get to the top if your attempt is mediocre. If your attempt fails, take a moment to rest. This little bit of recovery, can mean the difference between failing or having succes with your next attempt.
- When you lose your grip, you could use a brush to clean and roughen the boulder. This little bit of work can really make the difference.
- Be gentle for your skin, your hands are suffering! After a while, you will develop calluses, but there is a danger in this: when your hands slip, the calluses can be pulled off from your hand entirely … and that hurts. You can always opt to file your hands 😉
- Enjoy! Do not forget bouldering is one huge playground filled with hundreds of puzzles, there for you to enjoy. If you do not succeed today, you may succeed the next time!
We hope that these tips help you topping boulder after boulder.
Helen and Nadine
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