Bouldering is a kind of climbing that is done without ropes or harnesses. At Rock Box, we have climbing walls that go up to 14 feet high, so you will never end up dropping more than 14 feet onto our 14" thick impact attenuating bouldering pads. Of course, there's a lot more to it than making it to the top. There is a lot to learn about the world of bouldering, and climbing in general. The best way to learn is to come visit us, but we've also got some basic information about the sport on this page.
Bouldering from the bottom up
the right gear
When you think of climbing, you might think of some untold number of ropes, carabiners, slings, and buckles. Fortunately, bouldering is simple. For the indoors, all you need is a good pair of shoes and a little chalk to keep your hands dry.
Wearing a shoe designed for rock climbing is the essential boulderer's tool. A well-fitted rock shoe will let you step on
tiny edges and stick to rounded slopes. Rock Box Bouldering has rental shoes in every size, available for just 3$ per day.
Having some plain white chalk on your hands can help them from becoming sweaty and slick. Climbers keep their chalk
in chalk bags, which are sealable pouches that keep chalk close at hand. Rock Box rents out chalk bags for only 1$.
getting to the top is just the beginning
You might think climbing only 14 feet is easy. And it is, if you use all the holds available on the wall. Bouldering is less about the destination, and more about the journey. Challenge yourself to climb harder and smarter by using only holds of the same color. These color-coded routes are called "problems", and are given difficulty ratings.
The difficulty ratings are determined using a subjective "V" rating. A difficulty of VO is the easiest, and increase in difficulty as the numbers go up. In general, harder climbs have smaller holds, the holds are farther apart, and/or are on steeper terrain.
Is it safe? how do i get down?
All climbing is dangerous, and while bouldering involves shorter falls, it still is a dangerous activity. This is because every fall is a fall all the way to the ground. Here are some steps you can take to decrease the risk of harm:
stay in control
At no point should you feel like you do not have the option to take a controlled fall. If you are anxious about falling, practice climbing up gradually higher and taking controlled falls from increasingly higher places. Another exercise to practice staying in control is to downclimb, reversing the way you came up the wall. Downclimbing is not only a mental aid, but also a fantastic way to warm up and exercise precision.
The best way to take a fall is to be in control when you leave the wall, and land with knees bent and thumbs pointed in or back. Sometimes it helps to roll backwards as you fall, to help further reduce impact. If you are able to do so, it is helpful to visually check your landing area before falling for obstacles or oblivious spectators.
Before leaving the ground, locate obstacles like columns, chairs, chalk bags, people, and walls. Knowing where these things are will help you avoid hitting or landing on them. Also, being aware of how difficult a climb is can help keep you from finding yourself in an awkward, strenuous position when you are high off the ground. Make sure you get a good look at where the climb goes and what kind of holds to expect before climbing
skill beats strength
Contrary to popular belief, climbing does not require the ability to do multiple pull-ups (but it does help). By focusing on technique over raw strength, anybody can make their way to the top. Check out some tips below. For more advanced techniques, try signing up for one of our classes
Use your legs
Many new climbers make the mistake of pulling with their arms and stepping up their feet as an afterthought. This will tire
you out in no time. Try keeping your arms straight in between moves, and pushing down with your legs- like climbing a ladder.
Being efficient and controlled in your movements will go a long ways toward keeping your energy for the hard moves. Try
moving slowly, and planning out how you will be moving ahead of time. Sometimes the best way is not the most obvious.