Many times over the past few years I’ve enjoyed the brisk fall afternoons up on a mountain near the Blue Ridge Parkway in my Oboz Sawtooths searching out boulders to climb. I love how easy it is to connect with the creation around you when you’re deep in the woods looking for a new challenge.
There are tons of rock climbing varieties all over the country. Whether you're a top-roper, boulder, trad-climber, or sport climber, all have one thing in common: the love for challenging yourself against nature.
And then there’s that other type of climbing…indoors. I recently discovered I love bouldering in a gym, much to my own surprise.
It started easy enough. Without a crash-pad of my own, I had to rely on friends, many of whom had busy, sometimes conflicting schedules. But when I discovered a small, fairly new bouldering gym in my little home town of Boone, North Carolina, I knew that my desire to challenge my strength and test my skill would be fulfilled.
1. Because its just like a traditional gym membership but better.
I’ve spent plenty of time working out on the new-fangled equipment in a local gym. The climbing gym is like that in a lot of ways, especially the monthly membership cost. The difference, however, is that working on my fitness and strength while enjoying the activity (bouldering) makes going to the gym a lot more fun and interesting. Anyone can work to curl the heavier weights, but how many people do you know that can climb a V9 level bouldering route?
2. Because not only can you challenge yourself but also your friends.
Many days I enjoy climbing silently in the gym before the after-work rush, but one of my favorite ways to spend an evening is challenging my friends on the bouldering wall. Not only can we make up routes of our own to try, but we also play games like “Add-On” to test everyone’s strength against our own. This creates a fun environment that hardly feels like “working out”.
3. Because climbing is a serious workout.
Have you ever seen a climber who wasn’t ripped? Didn’t think so. It takes years of experience, agility and strength to boulder the top-level routes. Many times I've been sore for days after climbing for just a few hours, but I always repair stronger and are better prepared to go at it again. In only a few months I was able to go from only a level V1 (V0 is the easiest rated route) to now a few V7’s. Just as you feel accomplished bench-pressing a new max, you feel three times more pride when climbing a route that many of your peers cannot.
Although bouldering is one of the most all-inclusive exercises there are, it can be challenging at first. Give it a few tries so your muscles can build appropriately.
John Stephens, a.k.a. That Hiker, grew up in a world where you can set your mind to something and do it with minimal help from others. So he spent high school publishing a novel, working full time at a retreat center, and starting a career in photography and adventure. Now he spends his time building tiny houses, writing, hiking, climbing, photographing, reading, and seeing the world. Follow his adventure and journey thru hiking on Twitter & Instagram - @thathiker.