Bouldering: An Introduction

Interested in trying a new sport? Bouldering is a unique form of rock climbing that is accessible to enthusiasts across the UK.

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Bouldering is seen as the most raw form of safe rock climbing available to anyone interested in the sport.

Bouldering provides a testing challenge for climbers both mentally and physically. Compared to higher climbs that require ropes, it consists of more difficult challenges aimed at testing the physical ability of the climber, but also their mental capacity to plan routes and push themselves to reach the top.

What you need

In order to ensure the safety of the climber, special crash mats are used to cushion from any fall. Other people must also be available to ‘spot’ the climber. I.e. ensure they land on the mats.

The only other pieces of equipment necessary to begin are special rock climbing shoes and climbing chalk.

The chalk offers greater grip when hanging on to rocks or holds. The shoes allow climbers to feel the rock to work out the best foot placement. They are also incredible flexible, whilst also strong, allowing for optimal climbing.

How to get involved

Whilst outdoor bouldering exists across the UK and the rest of the globe, the best and safest way to try the sport is at a specialised indoor climbing centre. These centres have purposed built bouldering walls and staff on-hand to ensure safety and teach climbing techniques. They also generally have the option to rent shoes to newcomers to the sport.

Here are some indoor climbing facilities in the South Wales region:

One striking feature of the climbing community is it’s openness to newcomers. As soon as young children are safe to climb with adult supervision, they can begin testing themselves on these lower climbs. The lesser demand on endurance also means that many older people have also now tried their luck at bouldering.

On top of age, compared to other sports, climbing also has a strong mix of male and female climbers. Top climbing is much more about technique and recent years has seen a surge in the number of female climbers taking on the very top climbs. On example is the UK’s world-class Shauna Coxsey.

Indeed, the only obstacle when you are bouldering is yourself.