Rock Climbing: Bouldering Basics
Climbing bouldering routes is a different experience from traditional or sport rock climbing. Not only does bouldering require less gear and can be done individually, but it allows the climber to build confidence before moving on. Since bouldering is done closer to the ground, most routes are designed for quick access, repeated practice, and building strength. In this way, a bouldering route is much more accessible to the average person. With a chalk bag and some climbing shoes, anyone can begin bouldering, but a few safety measures should be taken into account before beginning.
Crash Pad and Falling
With bouldering there is no partner or harness to hold you up when you fall. For this reason a crash pad to fall onto is of the utmost importance. Crash pads range in size, depending on the height and intensity of the climb. Be sure that the crash pad is properly aligned to where you are climbing as well as is of the proper thickness. Second, be aware of how you are going to fall and know how to fall correctly. Though the crash pad will brace the shock of the fall, it cannot help if the climber falls oddly.
Slipper shoes are great for bouldering because they provide higher sensitivity to feel the rocks beneath the climber's feet. Also, they are very quick on and off as apposed to lace up shoes. In either case the protection provided by rock climbing shoe's soles is much more minimal than sneakers. Do not jump off the rock or you can badly damage your feet. If you are falling be sure to try not to fall onto your feet for this same reason. It is important that sharp rocks and stone bruises are avoided.
Chalk To Mark
For some, bouldering is a training exercise where harder moves can be attempted. Bouldering routes are a great place to visualize complicated routes, practice intensive moves repeatedly, and keep skills honed. When people boulder in this fashion chalk is used to mark a visualized route which requires fine footwork or maneuvering. By marking the route, the climber can train in a specific fashion or see where they have been previously to better critique themselves.
Bouldering is kept low and not designed to scale a rock face. Instead of climbing up, the boulderer is traversing back and forth. Be sure that when you boulder you only climb up as high as you are comfortable falling. Instead of thrills from height, bouldering provides thrills from the complicated nature of the moves which are attempted and pulled.
Not only is climbing about finding the weakness in the rock and moving with it, the movements are best when done slowly and fluidly. By conserving the energy of the climber, the grace of the sport is preserved. Overly quick motions are often a recipe for disaster and not well thought out. Climb with your legs and think carefully about your next move, how you will transition there, and the smallest amount of motion required to execute it well.