Have you heard of bouldering? Well, you’re about to get a rundown of it from Ethan Walker who describes the technicalities of this amazing sport and how to get involved in it yourself. Ethan is a professional climber, since growing up in the Peak District (a natural playground for bouldering!) he has gone on to conquer many amazing climbs over the years. Over to Ethan…
So firstly, what is bouldering?
- To put it briefly, bouldering is climbing. Climbing, but without a rope and harness, that is relatively close to the ground, with crash pads for safety.
- Bouldering is a sport that can be done both indoors, on plastic man-made structures, and outdoors on the natural rock.
- Over the last few years bouldering has exploded as a sport. Numerous dedicated indoor centres have opened up in nearly every major city throughout the world. Here in the UK, it is more than likely that you have such a center within an hour’s drive of your house.
- It is an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone. Whether you are looking for a new and exciting way to keep fit that gives a full body workout, something new to do with the kids or maybe just an after work social that involves something other than trotting off to the pub!
- It is also probably one of the most accessible sports requiring virtually zero equipment. A decent pair of trainers is probably all that is required if going indoors, but you will probably have more fun (and climb a million times better) in a proper pair of rock climbing shoes which are available for hire from the center you’re visiting.
- As you progress you may want to invest in some gymnastic chalk powder for your hands. This will help to increase grip as you climb and prevent sweaty fingers!
- The goal is generally to reach the top of the climbing wall using specially made hand and foot holds. Each ‘route’ or ‘boulder problem’ that goes up the wall will be colour coded and graded to a certain level of difficulty which enables you to measure and track your progress as you begin to improve.
Where to start?
Simple. Just find your local facility and sign up. Instructors will be on hand to show you the layout and explain the rules before letting you lose on the walls. This really is a sport that everybody can enjoy.
Below are 5 top tips for starting you off:
- Warm up! Warming up is essential in any sport, especially when climbing. You will be using most of the muscles in your body as you pull, bend and twist your way up the wall so ensure you stretch plenty beforehand and stay hydrated!
- Remember it is not a race to see who can be fastest up the wall. Take your time to think and plan your route. You will save far more energy this way.
- Try to climb in a relaxed fashion. While some bouldering routes may require some muscle, slow and steady will more often than not bring success.
- Take time to rest. If you are struggling with a particular climb, take a step back, shake out your arms and reassess. Take a moment to observe other climbers, particularly the more advanced climbers; this can be hugely beneficial for improving your skills.
- Finally, have fun! This truly is a sport for all abilities and ages. It’s a wonderful way of staying fit and having a good time with friends and family.
A little about Ethan Walker:
My Dad first took me climbing about 17 years ago and since then it has become a huge part of my life. Growing up in the Peak District I have been super privileged to be able to get out there and just climb as much as I want, whenever I want.
I love to push my limits in all disciplines of the sport. Whether this is scaring myself to death on the famous UK gritstone or hanging out on some sun-drenched European limestone.
Climbing can take you to some truly fantastic destinations and allows you to meet such a diverse range of people. I cannot really imagine my life without being able to climb and I am so incredibly grateful that I get to travel to some of the most amazing places in the world. Many places that a lot of people will never go to or even hear of in their entire lives.