Three years ago in September Devon and I took an Introduction to Bouldering course, she had asked me to take the course with her a few years before then but my work schedule was far too hectic to make advanced plans. So years later when my schedule was not as crazy we signed up, I had no idea what part of climbing bouldering referred to but was excited to try it out. I wasn’t playing paintball anymore and was mostly skateboarding, so I was up for trying another physical activity. Plus who doesn’t enjoy climbing stuff?
I learned that Bouldering refers to short climbs on literal boulders, the problems have a few number moves, and are representative of the crux moves of longer routes. So we found ourselves in a class of about 10 people and the instructor went over the basics of climbing, starting with how to fall on the mats which Devon and I both figured would be first. The course went into methods movement, how to conserve energy, and climbing terminology. As the course continued it became very obvious that this activity used many muscles that were not my best and my hands were not ready for sustained periods of climbing. After a period of time in the training area our class was moved into the main climbing area of the gym where all the space possible is dedicated to bouldering problems. It was very intimidating but at the same the people of the climbing community made the atmosphere inviting by being friendly and helpful, everyone wants to help you get to the top of the problem.
Part of the paying for the Introduction class covered your entry fee for two weeks, I returned many times in that two week span and was able to top some of the problems that stumped me that first session. I was hooked to the sport, I bought some beginner shoes, chalk, and a membership to the gym and have been going regularly since then.
The sport has so many things that I enjoy, not only is it physically difficult to execute the moves of the problems but as the problems become more complex you have to mentally read the route and create a plan of how to get to the top. And a great aspect is that the effort you put in really pays off as you can climb more difficult problems, you can see your own progression. As you climb everything else fades away. All you know is where your hands and feet are, and all your concentration is on how to execute the next move of the problem. And trying to remember to breathe regularly.
As I continued to climb indoors and meet new people at the same skill level as me. We spoke about bouldering outdoors, I had never really thought about it or put much stock in that it could be as fun. But one morning with some friends we rented a couple crash pads and drove up to Squamish for some outdoor bouldering. The gym I climb at uses a hex system to mark difficulty, from 1 to 6 hexes, 1 being the simplest to 6 being the most difficult. Around this time I could climb 3 hex problems with confidence. Outdoor problems are rated using a V scale from V0 to V16+. My first outdoor session in Squamish was extremely fun, exciting, and humbling. Not only did I have trouble finishing V0 routes but I had difficulty starting V0, V1, and V2 routes. I also learned that Squamish is a world known climbing destination and its problems are notoriously harder than their ratings. That first day on the rocks I met people from France, England, and America all in our backyard to climb these problems. I wanted to return as much as possible to challenge myself on these problems.
Since then I have continued to climbing indoors and trying to get outdoors whenever I can. But the combination of a steady job and our weather can make getting outside difficult because the rocks need time to dry after a rain fall. I continue to meet many people from all over the world and everyone just wants to help each other get to the top, it is a great community. I continue to push myself to climb better and harder routes, and I still notice my own progression. I won a Dynamic move competition, which was very unexpected. This past season I have climbed V4 and V5 routes outdoors, and cannot wait for next season to try and get onto some v6 routes.
If you haven’t tried out climbing or bouldering in the modern era I would highly recommend it, look up a local gym and give it a try.
Below are some pictures of myself and others I’ve climbed with from outdoor sessions taken over the years.