Bouldering demands skill, coordination, flexibility and – depending on the chosen route – a lot of strength. Experienced boulderer Adi Schiess gives a few tips for beginners.
Text: Clau Isenring
What makes bouldering so fascinating?
Picture a cat running across a garden fence, then jumping onto the branch of a nearby tree. This takes silky coordination, balance and explosive strength. If you can mimic these skills, listen to your body and move like a cat, you’ll feel strong and light at the same time.
Apart from the height, what are the main differences to climbing?
You don’t need to learn securing techniques and can therefore give bouldering a try without much prior knowledge. Bouldering is a playful sport so you often don’t notice how strenuous it is. It’s also very sociable. Boulderers watch one another, give tips, provide help and support others.
Do you need to go to a gym to get fit for bouldering?
If you do bouldering as a hobby, you don’t need additional fitness training in a gym. Professional boulderers do specific weight training exercises. However, this requires a lot of know-how and experience in training theory and doesn’t replace the activity of bouldering itself.
Should beginners start indoors or outdoors?
It’s much easier in a hall, because the colourful grips point you in the right direction, you don’t have to find suitable bouldering areas first and you can be sure that you’ll have a safe landing. But for experienced climbers, hidden boulders outside in forests are hugely fascinating and offer secrets waiting to be discovered.
What equipment do you need for bouldering, and how much does admission to a centre cost?
I recommend comfortable clothing, climbing shoes and maybe a bag of chalk to keep your hands free of sweat. Climbing shoes are available for around CHF 100 to CHF 180 and can also be rented from many centres. Chalk bags costs between CHF 30 and CHF 50, but you don’t need one straight away. All-day admission to our hall costs CHF 19 for people aged 25+.
Should beginners do a bouldering course?
You can just come by and try it out, but it’s a good idea to attend a crash course first so you can learn about warming up, safety, technical grades, jumping down, the descent, etc. It’s also a good idea to watch other climbers to see how they solve a particular “problem” (the path a climber takes to complete a climb), because making even slight changes to body positions can play a key role in solving bouldering problems.
Bouldering halls in Switzerland
Bouldering is currently popular throughout Switzerland. Here’s a selection of Swiss bouldering halls.