When I started climbing outdoors, I went straight for trad – it felt like ‘proper’ climbing with its commitment, gear, and risks. I didn’t feel bouldering was as adventurous – it was just a way to get some practice at the indoor wall during the week. Then I moved to Manchester and ended up working within half an hour of many different crags, so it was impossible to resist their call in the evenings. I’m now discovering the joys of bouldering when I don’t have more than a few hours to dedicate to climbing. It’s the perfect after-work workout – you get to spend time outdoors, exercise, train, and de-stress. It’s such an excellent way to end your day. You may even want to give it a go after a hike on a warm summer evening.
If you haven’t tried it, here are 6 reasons why you should try out bouldering.
There’s no doubt that bouldering is definitely more sociable than trad, as you get to spend more time with your climbing partner. You’re never very far from each other and can chat in between problems or help each other out by indicating holds. What’s even better, climbing in 3 isn’t an issue, and the more climbers, the merrier – you’ll all just have a laugh and a good rest in between more challenging problems.
It’s not as committing as trad
Bouldering doesn’t require the same sort of commitment a multi-pitch demands. You can jump off a problem if you feel afraid or don’t think you can do it. The routes are also much shorter than any single pitch, so you can try out harder grades in total safety and with less stress.
Bouldering outdoors is a lot of fun. You feel free, agile, and light, as you’re not wearing a harness or tied into a rope. Each problem, even if easy, gives you almost instant satisfaction after a shot of adrenaline which dies off quickly. It usually involves quite a bit of banter, too, as you top out on your belly or you inelegantly invent a whole new technique that will never appear in climbing books. I can even make it funnier by landing right on my face after a perfectly safe jump off the top of a boulder…! My climbing mat must have springs.
It’s time effective
Having no gear to carry around, place, and remove and no anchors to set up and clean means that you can climb more meters more quickly. You can get many more problems done than routes in the same amount of time. This also means that it’s a great way to train for trad and multi-pitch climbing. When bouldering, you can work on improving your grade and endurance in safety and practice topping out for leading.
It feels less scary than trad
You don’t usually reach great heights when bouldering, so it’s a little less scary than trad. Sometimes a little fear gets to you if you’re halfway through a problem and can’t find a good hold or when you top out. But the mat (or better, 2 or 3 mats) is always there, and a controlled fall is always an option. Also, someone’s life doesn’t depend on your belay when bouldering, so you’re less focused and stressed.
It can be as chilled as you like
When you’re bouldering, you don’t feel the pressure you’d usually put on yourself when out on a trad day, as you’re not rushing to clean an anchor sort out your gear before looking for the next buttress on the book. Bouldering can be quite relaxing – you can enjoy a snack on your mat and take your jacket off right before you attempt a problem.
If you want to find out how to get started and boulder outdoors, check out this excellent article by the BMC.
If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read my top 10 reasons why you should try climbing out too.