Climbing has always sparked curiosity inside me; like most of sports, requiring a lot of concentration and physical fitness, challenging body and mind, this activity seemed like a good way to spend Saturday afternoon. My personal favorite aspect of climbing is its sense of adventure and wilderness, it is a bit like going back to ancient times when people had to jump, run and climb in order to survive. Challenge accepted I thought in my head and decided to finally try it for a first time!
Lets do this,
Myself and my friend, who was equally excited to try climbing, done a brief research on it beforehand and chosen to do activity called bouldering at The Reach climbing centre which is located in Woolwich area, south east London. The Reach is known as one of the biggest climbing walls in London, it also has a newly refurbished bouldering area which was the main selling point.
In case not everybody is familiar with definition of bouldering, it is a lower level climbing without ropes or harnesses. Walls are usually not higher that 6 meters (20 ft.) tall so it is pretty safe to climb with no equipment, especially with safety mats on the floor 😉
Upon our arrival to the centre, we have been asked to complete mini online bouldering intro course and a sign safety agreement. It took us around 10-15 minutes so nothing overly time consuming.
We were wearing trainers and they were okay to use for climbing, but in case you do not have comfortable shoes, The Reach also offers climbing shoe rental which is only 3 pounds a pair for unlimited hours.
First 15-20 minutes in climbing area we were there by ourselves, trying to climb those artificial climbing walls like a pros, falling down multiple times ( oh well, I guess that is a part of experience). I was looking around and could not understand how those other people on the wall were able to climb so effortlessly.
Soon a member of staff came to us and gave us some useful tips; he pointed out that we should mostly use our legs, not our arms. We also have been advised to keep our bodies closer to the wall and use wall itself more, not only holds attached to it. He also has explained more about coloring of the holds on the climbing walls – that each color indicates a certain level of difficulty, and each shape should be used in a slightly different way.
It was time to apply all the new knowledge we gathered to practice, so we tried climbing again , this time focusing on putting most of the body weight on our legs as well as focusing on the next move, and it worked wonders. We were able not only to stay on the climbing wall for longer and move on it quicker, our arms and shoulders now no longer had to suffer from holding all our body weight so it felt like a relief!
By the end of an hour and a half long session, it became clear that bouldering is both physical and mental challenge. You not only have to use all your body strength to be able to climb on the rock, but also constantly think about the next move, in terms of which hold on the wall to choose so you can maintain the balance to climb up the wall. If you decide to try this yourself, please use your LEGS.