Spogo Finds: Bouldering | Eclectic Cake: Spogo Finds: Bouldering

Monday, 22 December 2014

Spogo Finds: Bouldering

After moving house to a completely new area, I'm on a mission, with the help of fitness finder Spogo.co.uk, to hunt out the best local places to expend my energy and stay active. Just 20 minutes up the road, I found an indoor climbing centre, perfect for my first taste of bouldering...

My interest in bouldering was first sparked when a friend fell and dislocated his elbow whilst tackling a particularly difficult climb. I immediately wanted to give it a try. Not because I have a wish for broken bones but because he was still so keen to get back on the wall and try the same route again,  despite being in pain. Anything met with that much enthusiasm must be worth a try!

Me tackling a yellow route

Staring up at the different coloured lumps on the wall at XC in Hemel Hampstead, I was glad I brought a few experienced friends to show me the ropes (as it turns out, there are none). Bouldering is just like climbing but the walls aren't as tall and there are no ropes for safety, there is a spongey floor to soften any falls but that doesn't mean you won't get hurt (see above).

Ignoring the sensible part of my brain, I clambered onto a set of yellow holds and started pulling and pushing myself upwards. Despite being the easiest level (climbs are colour coded by difficulty), it still took some effort to reach the top. It also took a surprising amount of brain power – the route is marked but there are no hints as to how you use each hold or which hand goes where. Planning your way up is key, otherwise you could find yourself stuck like a game of vertical Twister.

My friend acing a pink route

Once at the top, confirmed by a two-handed touch to the last marker, it was clear I was going to find coming down harder. I quite enjoy being high off the ground, I don't think it scares me but as soon as I don't feel safe, I tend to panic...which is exactly what happened. I felt stuck and couldn't find the holds I used to go up. The ground seemed very far away, despite my friends promising me it wasn't.

Finally, desperation saw me down but I couldn't rest long, feeling silly, my friends forced me up another route to try and banish any existing fear. They were right, of course. Once I got a few climbs under my belt, I knew I could trust my grip and strength and really enjoyed each challenge. I felt more confident and pretty strong. I was encouraged to try the next level up, this time grabbing at pink holds. After completing a few of these, I even tried the green holds, the level above that! I seemed to have unlocked my inner monkey. Even a little fall didn't deter me – luckily, I wasn't hurt, I didn't land on anyone and there wasn't too much squealing. But I'm not sure I would've noticed either way, Whilst picking myself up, I was only thinking about how to get further up the wall.

This is how it's done!

My souvenirs from my first bouldering session? Achey arms, pumped-up fingers, bruised knees, a new confidence and an impatience to go again!


  1. I haven't been climbing for a good while now, and this just makes me want to go again! When bouldering, I hate jumping down... It does always feel so high!

    1. Brilliant! I'm glad it's not just me, I feel like such a wimp!