Free solo: Bouldering requires neither a rope or harness
To begin with, bouldering was viewed as training, where climbers would practice technical moves on rocks that weren’t large enough to warrant a rope. But these days it’s a very popular style of climbing in its own right. Indoor gyms grew out of the need for people to have a place to train during the cold, wet winter months. But now some climbers exclusively boulder indoors!
In most indoor walls, you’ll climb on plastic holds that have been bolted into the walls above crash mats. The variety of different holds, angles of the walls, and placement of the holds, allows for the creation of tricky and inventive ‘problems’ that climbers have to solve with their bodies and mind.
Bouldering offers great freedom of movement, requires hardly any equipment, and is a great alternative to the gym.
If you haven’t got your own climbing shoes, don’t worry, most indoor walls will let you rent a pair. You can always call the wall up beforehand to check if necessary.
There are so many new climbing walls popping up around the country that it’s hard to keep track. Understandably, most climbers will choose the wall closest to them, but it is worth travelling about a bit to get a feel for the vibe at different places. Find the climbing walls near you HERE
Nobody lasts long the first time. Your hands and forearms will probably give up first, even if the rest of your body feels relatively fresh. But with time, as your body responds and adapts to the demands you are putting on it, you should eventually be able to manage two to three-hour sessions.
Learn to listen to your body from the beginning. Try not to push it too much in the early days and make sure to get lots of rest. Recovery is key to making progress in any sport, so it's important to always think of things in the long-term.
If your hands and feet hurt, take a break or go home. The wall will still be there after you’ve recuperated! It’s far better to rest often and come back soon rather than having to spend a long time healing from injury.
An easy way to refine your skills is to watch other climbers, the ones who appear to move effortlessly up the wall. Analyse what they’re doing; the shapes they make with their body, their footwork. Yes, it helps to be strong for climbing, but without good technique you’ll soon burn out.
And if you’re stuck on a problem, ask for help! Climbers are a friendly bunch and sharing route knowledge - or ‘beta’ - is what passes for small talk at the wall.
By Amii Wilkes, BMC competitions project co-ordinator
Snow+Rock are proud to offer BMC members 15% off both in-store and online purchases.