You’ve got your rock boots, you’ve got your mat and even some chalk – you’re ready to go bouldering outside!
You might have been bouldering at an indoor wall, but…
What is going to be different when you head outside?
Because the ground won’t be a flat matted area, you need to watch your landings. Before heading up a problem, spend a little bit of time looking at your landing. Are there rocks you could move out of the way? Where will the hardest move (the crux) be? Where should you put your bouldering mat if you’ve brought one? (it won’t necessarily be under the very first move – instead you want it either on the worst part of the landing or under the crux). If you’ve got a mate with you, where should they stand to ‘spot’ you? Also, before you get going, how will you get down?! Do have a quick check that you can get off it alright. One last thing, before you start take your harness off, make sure you aren’t wearing any jewellery and empty your pockets of any phones, cash, etc. This will make your [crash] landings less uncomfortable and will also reduce the need for your spotter to wear a helmet (see photos!).
The other big difference to bouldering inside is that the routes will not be marked. Well, not the in UK anyway. There are three main sources of information about how to find boulders to play on and what routes to climb on them. 1. A Guide Book; check out the TryClimbing selection of bouldering guide books. 2. The Web or an iPhone app (the bouderz app is a useful one). 3. Your own sense of adventure! Get out there, find some boulders and just have a go. Sometimes bouldering grades and comparing bouldering grades can be off-putting. You think ‘that’s too hard for me’ when actually without knowing the grade you would have done it. (But if you’re interested there is more to come on grades soon).
This is the art of helping to reduce the injuries of a falling boulderer! You’re not trying to catch them, but just to make their fall as controlled as possible. To ‘spot’ someone well, think about these 4 things:
1. What dangers are you trying to protect them from? Before they start, check out the possible dangers (might they fall onto their back / head? Are there any large rocks or trees to avoid?), then stand in the best place to protect them.
2. Be Prepared! Keep your hands up, arms slightly bent and keep looking at them. Until they’re right at the top. Spotting a climber well will help to keep them safe. But if you’re not paying attention and they land on you then it’ll be worse for both of you!
3. Keep your thumbs in. Holding your thumbs next to your index finger & in line with your palm will help to protect them. Leave them out wide and you run the risk of getting them bent back.
4. Move the mat. Make sure the bouldering mat is positioned under the climber for as long as possible. Kick it, move it, just do it as quickly as possible and remember to keep your eyes on the climber at all times!