Bouldering (Birthday weekend–part 2)

Having the birthday that I have (19th June) means it often falls on or is around Father’s Day. I was actually born on Father’s Day and my dad always says it was the nicest present to have gotten (ha, take that Big Sis Winking smile).

Since I did most of my celebrating the day before and my dad and me had done a dual celebration a few weeks ago (Nando’s and cinema – two of our loves), we hadn’t planned anything concrete for the actual Sunday. My dad and me had a nice walk down the beach with the dogs while we waited for my mum to finish at church (my dad and me aren’t religious). Then, with my mum, we went for a little mosey round the shops and they treated to me to a Starbucks. They also got me a brand new travel coffee cup as well as I broke my last one (I’m notoriously clumsy and dropped it).

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It’s cool that Starbucks sell smoothie drinks now with ACTUAL fruit in them. You just take a plastic cup of the fruit to the till and they blend it up.

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My dad had one of those while I had my usual Americano. My parents each had a slice of cake but I resisted the temptation, which actually wasn’t that hard as I was still recovering from the mammoth meal the day before…

Then I went on my merry little way to my bouldering induction. After my booking fail of last weekend I was really keen to make this one! Though not actual rock climbing (with harnesses) it was the next best thing I could do within a short notice (I’ve got rock climbing this weekend).

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It was based at a place called Red Spider in Fareham. I paid £15 for a one-on-one introduction to bouldering session (lasting an hour). The instructor who took it, a lovely guy named Chris, was really good. Very friendly and thorough, especially with safety which is obvious paramount as you don’t have a harness and you are climbing fairly high!

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Yes there is a cushioned mat underneath the wall but that minimises the impact rather than acts as a safety net. You’ll still get injured or cause yourself damage by falling or dropping incorrectly from the wall.

IMG_2302Special climbing shoes

Anyway he got me to warm up by following him through the kid’s climbing area which was highly amusing. We were going up and down these twisty passages (which were actually quite narrow!) and then up slides and things like that. Seemed random but I understood the logic – bouldering uses pretty much your entire body and scampering up and down the kid’s play area was working all our muscles dynamically but safely. Then we started on a wall that was standing height so I could get used to the grips and foot placing. I seemed to do alright and he said my technique and strength was good so we moved quickly on.

IMG_2307After the session on my own

The climbing wall has lots of different ‘problems’ (routes to climb the wall) and each problem is categorised between V0-V5, V5 being the hardest and they’re indicated by colours. You then follow (or attempt to follow) the colour of the holds (the things you grab onto and/or put your feet onto). You can only use the colour holds that are for that problem. So obviously we started on the V0s to get used to climbing up and down. I found this quite easy (not to beat my own drum!) and we moved on to harder ones.

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It obviously helps that I have a fitness background – being a runner means I have strong legs and a high endurance for effort and all my gym work has improved my strength, especially in my arms and core. I also like to think that since my grandad was a proficient climber (he’s written two books about it and is in Wikipedia!) that something may have trickled down into my genes Winking smile

I still found it tough though and on the tricky ones he would explain or demonstrate how to do certain routes, which gave me a range of skills that I could learn and work on. Though obviously I know rock climbing and bouldering has a lot of skill involved, it was fascinating to realise it was a lot more than just having a strong grip and strong arms! There was so much core strength and mental ability required to work out the best way to navigate up. Using your hips as a centre of gravity and twisting your body to get the right balance to get to the next grip. A lot of balance and stability was required.

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Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I got a super pump from it and I was buzzing. It was amazing how quickly it became a tough workout as well when you went from the easy problems to the harder ones. And the genuine fear of falling was always there. After we finished the session I carried on by myself for about half an hour doing the ones we’d gone through.

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What I also loved about it was how social it was. There were lots of other people there climbing and everyone was so nice. When I got stuck trying to get past a problem, someone was always there to help me out and explain the best way to do it.

I left buzzing and wanting to go back as soon as possible. I’m going to try rock climbing as well but bouldering seems a bit more accessible as I don’t need to worry about having someone to help with a belay. But I’ll see what the rock climbing is like. This is something I really hope to continue. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously still love running but for my sanity I need something else I can enjoy when I can’t run. I like going to the gym but it’s not exactly something you can go and do for fun per se. Bouldering is definitely something I can go off and do on my own and enjoy myself on afternoon.

Have you ever done rock climbing or bouldering before?

What are your hobbies?

What’s your favourite coffee shop? I know it’s so commercial, but I do love Starbucks.

14 Replies to “Bouldering (Birthday weekend–part 2)”

  1. LOVED this post Anna. I boulder once a week or more and love it. Glad you enjoyed it, you really look like you got the hang of it!

    Just one thing- you wont necessarily hurt yourself if you fall off. People sometimes hurt themselves but the mats should be designed so that you can safely fall onto them. Most often falls only hurt people if they put a hand out to stop themselves (broken wrists) or hit someone else. I have been bouldering 1 1/4 years, fall off routes almost every session and have never hurt myself. It could be different with that centre if they have thinner mats but I think they have to have thick ones?

    Also wouldn’t say bouldering is “not actual rock climbing” 😉 – its just a different type of rock climbing. The moves are typically much more intense and require much more strength, whereas roped climbing the moves are easier but there is more endurance needed. With roped climbing it does really, really matter that your belayer knows what they are doing. They are your entire safety net and without a good belayer you could be critically injured.

    Feel free to ask if you have any bouldering Qs ever!

    I also do kettlebells, Muay Thai, some boxing, and some TRX. And, of course, running! Non-sport hobbies? Nope, I’m all out of those 😛

      1. Regarding the mats, you’re absolutely right, they are very soft and should stop you breaking anything significant by falling and you’re not going to die. I guess you’d probably wind yourself but it WOULD hurt (depending on the height!). I think it’s more how you land – if you land on your ankle in a dodgy way you’re going to twist or break it. As a runner this terrifies me 😉
        I will definitely be coming to you for my climbing related questions, thank you 🙂
        AnnaTheApple recently posted…Climbing, running and eatingMy Profile

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! I did rock climbing once on a school trip but I really hated it- I don’t like heights and I was worried the whole time that the person holding the rope would let go, so I think I only got about a metre off the ground before I panicked and had to come back down!
    I like Starbucks too- they have the best options for non coffee drinkers- I saw those fruit smoothies too- they look really good.
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Heading up to ManchesterMy Profile

  3. Bouldering and indoor rock climbing is a good workout and fun – your grandad is delighted you enjoy it. It is a safer with a harness and rope and they may have a self belay device at your wall. When bouldering we traverse sideways rather than go too high.

  4. The climbing wall looks so fun (although I would be terrified even though I do love heights)! I love Starbucks too – despite feeling guilty that I should be going to independent coffee shops, I genuinely prefer their coffee – possibly because the first coffee I ever tried was a Starbucks one! x
    LilyLipstick recently posted…Food: Lunch Breaks In The Square MileMy Profile

  5. What a fab thing to have a go at! Great idea for a warm up too!
    I’m not sure that I’d be too good at it as despite my legs being fairly strong from running, my upper body strength is truly shocking. 🙁 I’ve got plans to work on this in the Autumn and hopefully improve it somewhat along with my flexibility.
    I have been a couple of times on a climbing wall when I was in Brownies/Guides, but always with a harness and then I enjoyed the abseiling down again most of all!
    Mary recently posted…All the delicious Summer foodsMy Profile

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