5 People You're Guaranteed to See at Every Single Bouldering Wall
"Yeah... Did I mention I'm actually just back from Yosemite?"
You know what it’s like; you get down to the local bouldering wall, and it’s jammed full of the usual mix of students, bohemians, freakish spidermen/women and newbies. It’s a nice mix.
And then there’s you, the recreational boulderer; the one quietly climbing away in the corner of the room, getting better with each problem you solve and always observing eyes-open the often bizarre and always entertaining soap opera that is the bouldering universe.
You can’t help but hear some things as you’re dangling off a wall, catch a couple comical classics out the corner of your eye or become absolutely bewildered by some of the sights you see.
Here are a few examples of what we’re talking about; five folk you’re guaranteed to come across whenever you hit the bouldering local:
The Spider Kid
How are they doing that? Where did they come from? Why do they have so much energy? Have they even reached double digits yet?
These are just some of the questions that we have whenever we get our gear on and then find ourselves immediately taken aback by the seven year old kid dangling from the roof of the climbing centre.
This child has been known to scale the problem you’ve been working on for weeks as a warm up and is normally accompanied by an exhausted looking parent fighting a losing battle to get them to leave.
The Loitering Students
Normally found in a circle on the matting under one of the climbing walls or in the very heart of the centre itself, the local university climbing group will always be there when you arrive to boulder, and will always be there when you leave.
But it’s unlikely you’ll actually see any more than two or three of the ten-strong group climbing at any point.
Steve is just there to agree with and try and pull that girl who’s president or social head or something, while Debbie’s proposed trip an hour out the city to boulder on rock has been slowly coming together for the past seven months. They’re all keen for it, but only one of them can drive the van and they’re busy most weekends.
The Stretching Hero
The stretching hero is rugged, worn and looks like they’ve been through a lot. They’ll be out the back of the centre stretching off when you arrive, and for that matter, any other time you look in their direction.
They’ve got a worn pare of climbing shoes, possibly a rugged beard depending on their gender, and a tattoo of the North Face of the Eiger on their right calf. They mean business.
They command respect simply from their presence on the mats and the ultra marathon t-shirt their wearing dated 1992.
You’ve never seen them actually tackle a problem, but from the finger strength visibile in their warm ups, it’s clear they can walk the walk.
They often gaze over to the toughest section of the wall with a knowing stare, and you’ve heard they once drunk their own urine while they were stuck up a wall for four days in Brazil.
The Guy Who’s “Just Back From Yosemite"
“Yeah I’m actually just back from Yosemite," he says. “It was wild, man. The views. It was totally meditative. So good to get away from the rat race, y’know? You probably saw my pictures on the Gram."
He did go to Yosemite. For one week. Four months ago. But you’ve heard all about that by now. He climbed El Capitano. Or so he says. You really don’t care anymore.
He’s planning to go back for a few months next summer, but he’s also just accepted a promotion he’s been after for months and mortgaged a new lawnmower. It’s pretty sweet, you’re told.
The Person Complaining About Their Shoes
Normally someone who’s new to climbing, and accompanied by one or two enthusiastic friends who have been at it for a few hours and are having a ball, the person complaining that their feet are sore in climbing shoes is subtly trying to suggest that it’s time to call it a day.
They’ve tried a size up and it made no difference. You’ve given them some tips on how to point their toes and tackle the problems, but they don’t seem overly enamoured by the experience.
They’re just going to grab a drink and take a picture on Snapchat where they put that dog filter over their face, but they’ll be back in a moment or two; they promise. And they’re having a really great time.