Said Alison as she tried rock climbing for the first time. Two of my closest friends, Alison and Norma, joined me this past weekend in my new obsession: bouldering.
I convinced Chris and Norma to join me last year for rock climbing over at Cliffhanger. That was a top-roping style of climbing where you are roped in with a harness, have someone hold the rope for you (belay) as you ascend a vertical wall reaching heights of 40- 45 feet. There were times I literally “hung-out” and could stop mid-way, knowing that I was secure with the guy down below holding onto the other end of the rope that was attached to me. This allowed me to stop, pause, wipe my sweaty palms, remind myself why I’m doing this (to get over my fear of heights! Character building!) and then continue on.
Bouldering is a specialized type of rock climbing and a bit different:
- You’re not roped into a harness
- You don’t need someone to belay you – ie) you can do this on your own which is a major plus!
- It’s not as high (15-20 feet)
- The flooring is padded with thick mats to fall onto
- Shorter routes…
- but also more challenging (example: overhangs! And it seems like there are less holds)
Drop-in fees are $16.50 and shoe rentals run for $5.00.
After filling out a waiver, they both got ready for their fall assessment.
They climbed up a few feet and then practiced falling safely using the 3-point contact technique: Land with your feet and then roll onto your butt and back with your arms out in front of you.
The guy giving them their fall assessment reminded them to only climb as high as you want to fall. Makes sense!
He then explained the coding system at the Hive. All gyms have their own way of ranking difficulty (V.0, V.1,V.2..) and here they used coloured honeycombs.
It ranged from 1 honeycomb – 6 and there’s a LOT of variation in between and within a level.
There is also a lot of different types of terrain: vertical walls, inclined, slab, top-out. I like the learning room in the back so I took my friends over there. I think this is the children’s room 😉
I’ve taken the Intro to Bouldering Class which I highly recommend for new climbers because you get a great overview and learn a few basic techniques. This includes footwork, body positioning and bit on how to read routes. I’m now taking the 4 week fundamentals class which goes much more in depth on techniques (more on that another time!). The best perk of the Intro Class is that the fee includes 2 weeks of freeclimbing afterwards! Given that each drop in as $18 after you factor in taxes, this is a really good value!
Some climbing tips:
- try to use the edges of your toes (not the middle of your foot)
- keep your body close to the wall (less energy expended, less of a fight against gravity)
- you’re not as high as it seems! Remember that your eyes are a full body length from your feet (the actual distance that you’re falling;)
On that last note, keeping this in mind is so helpful for someone who is terrified of heights (me!)! It’s logical and rational and explains why you get so scared when you’re up there, but why it’s not scary watching other people 😉
I was told a lot of things that day: “I hate your sport! It’s so aggressive! That was such an adrenaline rush! I’m still shaking! I think I’ll just lay here awhile”
But by the end of the climbing session they were both happy and wanted to come again 🙂
Here’s why I love rock climbing/bouldering:
It’s both a mental and physical challenge! You have to be smart and strategic in how you plan your routes and how you place your hands and feet so that you can use your energy most efficiently
It’s a gender equalizer – the hardest route in the world can be done by both a man and woman. So, females! Do not be put off by muscles over there doing a difficult route, you’re capable of it too!
It’s a sport with such a positive atmosphere! You hear people encouraging each other, offering advice and saying, “Nice!!” all the time. Huge fan of positive reinforcement!
- Have you seen how fit climbers are???