Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bouldering, what a joy!

Hey folks, what have you been up to these last months? It has been an amazing time for me with a lot of
short trips, weddings, parties and a lot of work, which is why I am looking forward to my holiday in Mallorca starting this Saturday. Friends of mine have been there for a climbing holiday and this is exciting me even more, as Mr. Schön and me have been discovering climbing as a new passion. Or let’s be more specific: bouldering. For those who have never heard of it before, it basically means climbing without the use of ropes or harnesses, only with either water underneath, or more common bouldering mats, crashpads, or in halls just very soft floors you can fall onto. You do not boulder in heights people reach when climbing, roughly four meters is the maximum, in order to give you the possibility to jump when you lose your strength.

I am afraid of height, I even hate crossing bridges sometimes and being in a crag in Cologne last year made me freak out, so you can imagine that it was not my dearest wish to try out bouldering. I have been climbing, with the harness and this kind of stuff, but I never really enjoyed it. Especially not the part about sitting back in the harness and coming down again. But when I heard that a friend of ours who suffers even more from vertigo than me is coming I felt like a wuss not to go too. We went to a great bouldering hall in Dortmund, a new, huge one, with all kinds of problems (the path a climber takes is called a “problem”. Fitting if you ask me. You can see the problems easily, they are all of one colour.) The climbing walls were about four meters high and when you reached the end of your path you could climb on top and just sit there or walk to an easy ladder-like path to climb down again. I loved the hall, the people who helped one another and how easy bouldering actually was for me. My legs and feet are pretty strong from running, so the straight and leaning-towards-the-wall kind of problems were cool to climb.

There was some horizontal climbing which was a lot of fun, too, as height was not much of a problem here. Almost all of our group were newbies, but whenever we had difficulties with a path, someone gave us good advice. Most of the time it was something like “Try to place your right hand here instead of your left hand” and you know what? It worked! I was impressed at seeing how much skill in bouldering derives from tactics and not so much from strength. It was good that difficult and easy problems were mixed in the hall, in order to also mix experienced with non-experienced climbers. Even my friend with the huge fear of heights got over her fear and climbed fairly high. I think that day was kind of a triumph for her and it was great for the atmosphere in the team. After two hours though, my arms and shoulders were pretty weak, so bouldering a day is out of the question at the moment. It is great though to just sit and watch people solving the most difficult problems. I have seen people do things that I would have thought are impossible.

After our experience in Dortmund we searched for halls nearby, and found a hall in Düsseldorf, which sadly is not nearly as impressive as the new hall in Dortmund. It is a) much smaller and b) not as well equipped for beginners as the one in Dortmund. There are a lot of problems including overhanging surfaces where you have to rely heavily on the strength of your arms and shoulders. As mentioned above I have some work to do in that area and was therefore kind of frustrated by the hall in Düsseldorf. They have some interesting and challenging problems for beginners however and we will definitely go again soon and maybe get some climbing shoes on our own. Maybe we will even have the chance to try some Deep Water Solo, as the climbing water is called in Mallorca. Try it, and tell me about your experience!

This video gives you a good impression of what bouldering is, much more impressive than a video of our feeble first moves: