I used to strongly identify as a sport climber. Routes had magical things called footholds and a grading system that started at a friendly 5.5, which made me feel significantly better about sending 5.10c than I did about sending V1 when the bouldering scale starts at V0. I also associated bouldering with snow-covered, footless Pawtuckaway State Park, where I spent more time jogging to warm up my feet than pulling on the glacial erratics.
However, in the past six months, I’ve gotten roughly 758 percent more psyched on bouldering. This is due to several factors, including having experienced the wonders of Joe’s Valley and the Buttermilks (the latter are my favorite boulders ever), starting to train at The Spot instead of continuing to avoid indoor bouldering like the plague, having broken into the V5-7 range instead of being stuck projecting ego-crushing V3s, and deciding I should search out boulders I’m psyched on instead of just following other pad-carriers to their projects hoping they aren’t V10 dynos I’ll never complete. So while I can’t say I’ve converted to the ropeless, pad-protected life completely–I spend a lot of time on multi-pitch routes in Eldo–I have discovered some of the joys of bouldering.
Some of the joys:
- No hanging belays.
- You never have to stop to clip or place gear.
- Lowballs with high numbers.
- No stuck stoppers or accidentally stabbing yourself with a nut tool.
- Crash pads are significantly more comfortable to lounge on than a rope bag or belay ledge.
- No belayer neck pain or hang-dogging partners.
- No rope drag.
- No carrying 10 extra pounds of “ultralight” cams up your project. You also never have to climb while carrying a backpack.
- No multiple rappels to descend from the topout.
- Outdoor bouldering is 5 percent climbing, 5 percent brushing, 0.1-1 percent approach, and 89-89.9 percent socializing/lounging/snacking.
- It’s significantly easier to remember microbeta on a 15-foot boulder than a six-pitch route.
- It’s also much easier to drink beer when you don’t have to worry about belaying or hauling it ten pitches up to your portaledge.
- You never have to worry about forgetting to finish your knot.
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