What is bouldering?
Bouldering is climbing in its purest, simplest form. It requires minimal gear- without the use of ropes or harnesses. All you need are: a good pair of rock climbing shoes, some chalk, bravado, and a landing pad. Bouldering is incredibly accessible; you can go bouldering outdoors wherever you can find some solid rock and good weather, or indoors at nearly every climbing gym.
Is bouldering safe?
Falling or peeling off the rock or wall is an inevitable part of bouldering. Since ropes are not used in bouldering, your chances of hitting the ground at some point are fairly certain, especially if you’re pushing yourself on hard moves. That being said, there are ways to control and soften the blows of falling:
- Crash pads: These thick mats are used to cushion your fall. A must for solo climbers, crash pads must be strategically placed beforehand in your fall zone. Some climbers bring more than one to ensure ample coverage,
- Spotting: Another method of breaking a fall is to have your partner spot your moves. Spotting does not involve actually catching a climber, but rather it is to make sure that her head and shoulders don’t hit the ground. The more spotters you have, the greater the likelihood of a soft landing.
Is bouldering for me?
That depends – do you enjoy having a kick-ass workout that’s fun, challenging and empowering?
I’m new to climbing – how do I get started?
Check out Jeanne’s Guide to Learning How to Fall…in love with climbing!
How long have you been climbing?
I’ve been climbing since October 2006, and have never looked back. Some climbers are total naturals, and can crush advanced problems within just a few months; others take years – even decades – to perfect their technique and build their strength. I’d like to think that I fall somewhere in the middle!
I don’t have much upper body strength – how do I become a stronger climber?
Pure upper body strength can only get you so far – it’s the combination of technical precision, flawless footwork, strength, flexibility, balance, and a killer core that will take you all the way. I emphasize these techniques in all my classes, including the Women’s Bouldering Clinic, in order to build technical expertise as well as body strength.
How do I find the perfect pair of [rock climbing] shoes?
You may notice after a few sessions that you’ve outgrown the rental shoe options and have a hankering for your very own pair. A customized and comfortable shoe fit for your level (whether you’re a beginner or an expert) will help you take your climb to the next level. There’s a handful of online resources on how to purchase the perfect pair of climbing shoes, but I like this simple guide best.
I just joined a climbing gym and am intimidated by the advanced climbers I’m surrounded by, particularly the muscular, shirtless guys who grunt and climb v10. What’s the best way to fit in?
Be yourself! Bouldering is as much a social sport as it is a solitary one, and its attraction is often the camaraderie and friendly competition that results when several climbers are eyeing and attempting the same problem. Don’t be afraid to ask the more experienced climber for beta – information on how to complete a particular route or do a certain technique. Most are happy to help and will feel flattered that you asked!