Addictions are usually tied in with something negative. However, the climbing Gods support climbing addictions, so its true, we are not crazy, just everyone else is!
So about 3 years ago I became addicted to rock climbing at Triangle Rock Club in Morrisville, NC and at that moment my goal was to do just like the folks did in the movie ‘Cliffhanger’, I wanted nothing less. Well, when one starts climbing, slowly but surely our brain has stored ‘smart’ climbing brain cells, they activate, and develop over time (for at least most of us) and then we realize things like ‘Cliffhanger’ is actually something we would never do. It’s like surgeons watching Greys Anatomy and saying ‘ummm we never do that!’.
Anyhow, I would always see these boulderers running around doing what they call ‘problems’, and at first I thought, if it is such a big problem, I want nothing to do with that! Then I would see people spraining their ankles from falling in awkward positions or rolling their ankle off the side of the mat when they land. So I thought, yeah….I would rather go 1000 feet up high with a rope. So then one of my closest climbing friends went to what we called ‘the dark side’ and then I saw him running around the boulder area, talking the boulder ‘jive’, high fiving and topping out or falling down. I kept threatening to take his bi-color pattern rope that he found on Steep and Cheap since it has been collecting dust, but he refuses because he will pull it out once in a very blue moon.
I found that part of the sport a mystery. Then one day my friend Sandy talked me into bouldering. I ENJOYED it more than words can describe. In fact, my rope-climbing friends were looking over and whispering ‘is that Doris bouldering?’. So I would secretly whisper to Sandy, ‘guess what, I like that b’ding thing’. Which now you know how that made up Doris’ized word came about, I wanted to keep from saying the big real word so no one would faint hearing it! Along the way so many folks thought it was so cool and joined me. Others tried and decided, it was not for them. Which is totally fine. But I liked that word ‘b’ding’ so much, Sandy and I joke about it all the time.
In my journey this year, I found bouldering 40-50% of the time has helped sharpen my climbing skills. But also I found that those folks running around spotting, high fiving, jiving around with crash pads, is such a cool climbing community just like everyone else. They are not a secret society and welcome everyone, even me, crazy Doris (haha). In fact, as I write this piece I am thinking of a few problems I need to finish when I get back. See how strong my b’ding addiction is!
Below see some of the transformation I have seen in my climbing this year, but also my biggest transformation is I am going on my first flying climbing journey with a bunch of crash pads. Normally its all about roping all over the world, but guess what? That desire has expanded to also bouldering. Instead of roping up at J-Tree, I will be figuring out problems and falling on my Organic Crash pad (and others) and wearing my beanie.
- Sequencing – Most boulder problems can be compared to cruxes of a climb and so you know a good problem when you have some serious sequencing from ground to the top. I felt once I started bouldering, I was sequencing so much more, putting pieces of the puzzle together constantly, and now I know how those B’Dingers draw folks in. It is amazing and addicting to work on figuring something out. Once you do, you gotta get the next and the next and the next and so on and so on. Before you know it, you are hooked.
- Focus – I notice I really climb so much better on lead. Leading is like mini-boulder problems, from bolt to bolt you really are climbing free, except for bouldering there is no rope obviously. I found myself not just sharper in my sequencing skills; I found that bouldering sharpened my ability to focus better. One because I am trying so damn hard to piece moves together so I can get to the top, but also I sure as hell don’t want to fall!
Delicate Power – I was a crimpy, techy climber and liked nothing else really, I would always say, ‘Oh that climb is not my style.’ Bouldering taught me to climb anything, overhung, sloapers, jugs, laybacks, and more. In fact, I am most pleased how much I LOVE slopers. This summer I was at Rumney and I remember there was a climb where the crux was a tiny bit run out and you had to hang on a nice round sloper and one good foot. I went first, and thought that was the best part of the climb. Everyone else hung there just because of fear of clipping and not being able to hang on. 2 years ago, I would have just heard about it and avoided it! Also I am way stronger and more powerful with my moves since bouldering.
- Fancy Prancy Feet – I had been really working on my footwork and well, bouldering pushed me to that next step. Back when I started, I did not like those round or not so positive jibs for feet, now I can stand like if I was on a ledge.
- Beany’itis – I always love beanies, but I am not sure why, when I boulder, I need them even more. Can someone please explain this phenomenon to me? This is an observation I have made and cannot figure it out other than its just plain cool.
So next time you are in the gym, try out that B’Ding thing!