Monday, April 8, 2013

Bouldering, Helmets, Chalk

So, yesterday, as I resolved or at least talked about resolving, I got out bouldering at the Fish Rocks down by the Woronora River. First up, I should come clean and admit I suck at bouldering. I don't own a crash pad (and have no desire to clutter my life with yet another piece of gear), and, have never really learnt the art of falling well, so falling off a boulder from a great height – or even a modest height – does not rank highly on my “bucket list” of goals to achieve. 

With that caveat aside, I spent about an hour happily playing around on different boulders. I did notice that, contrary to what you might think (or at least what I thought), chalk is a good idea even if you are only out for an hour. It was steamy like a tropical jungle down by the river when the sun came out and I was working up a slick sweat on my hands (all over really, but that is much less pleasant for other people to think about). 

Those rock shoes that seemed comfortable at the end of last season feel like lotus shoes at the start of this season. Additionally, almost all Australian sandstone has rounded, sloping micro holds and while diligent (if boring) training on rock rings helps, climbing on slopers (either bouldering or roped) is, not surprisingly, the best way to train finger strength. Conversely, all that core training (think standard ankles to bar exercise done on rock rings) really helps stay on bouldering routes. Sticking with a schedule of lock-offs and dead-hangs helps too. 

Finally, I started wondering why you never see anyone bouldering with a helmet on. Perhaps it was the nature of the boulders I was on – almost all Australian sandstone seems to be either overhung or at least undercut for the first metre – but I constantly felt that were I to peel off the rock, I wouldn't simply slither down feet first but would catapult backwards head-first, undoubtedly crushing my skull on either hard ground or a poorly placed boulder.

The Fish Boulders

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