10 05 2008

My kids go bouldering. It’s a sport related to mountain climbing, or rock climbing (please forgive my lack of technical acumen – I don’t boulder or climb!), but is typically done fairly close to the ground. Not that you can’t get hurt, of course!

With bouldering, height isn’t the purpose as it is with mountain climbing. Technique, strength, ability, agility are more the focus.

Down south (Georgia? Alabama?) there’s a fairly well known place called Grindstone. There’s even a video of the site. Routes are well identified by chalk dust residue, and they may get 15 or 20 feed above the floor of the surrounding area. Some routes are easy – big handholds, good toe holds, easy reaches from one to the next. Other routes are very difficult – hand holds big enough for one or two finger tips, a toe hold 1/4 inch or less in depth, and some places require you to swing from a nothing hand hold to another nothing hand hold.

They take their friends, who stand around watching, ready to be human mattresses should the need arise. White it occasionally does. They take there VERY good friends.

So today I was out cruising flickr and found several climbing pictures in the “Explore last 7 days” section. So I decided to blog the topic and include the pics.

This is bouldering. He is up-side-down, under the rock. You can see the trees look normal, so you can be sure he is hanging under the rock. Below him, on a rock on the ground, is his bouldering pad. No friends to cushion his fall here, but it’s not a big drop. You can also see the chalk marks from previous climbers. The “8B+” is the route’s rating.

Another bouldering shot. She, again, is hanging under a rock, this time the roof of a cave type of thing. Just below her are strobes and other lights to get a high quality shot, a studio type of shot. I believe the “V5” is a different rating scheme.

Bouldering isn’t restricted to rocks and things, but can also include buildings, though buildings can be a sub-specialty, and the sport is then called “buildering”. Yeah, but it’s there sport so they can call it what they want. In this photo a guy is climbing the pier of a bridge. The pier is made of stones, so this might be bouldering still, but it is also buildering because of the artificial joints between the rocks, er, boulders.
And finally, this shot from Basel, Switzerland. The photo description touts it as being one of the hardest problems in the world, with a rating of “8C”. While I’m not qualified to comment on the difficulty level, you can see that he’s holding on with 2 finger tips of his right had, and (it appears) 1 finger of his left hand. Below him you see a number of pads to help cushion him should he fall.

If you are interested in other pics of bouldering or climbing, flickr has pools for each.

Toward the other extreme, I have a so-called “friend” who likes to climb ice. Here’s a shot documenting his committability. That’s all right, Mountain Freek!, you’re still all right by me!





One response

11 05 2008

There is another sub-category of bouldering called cubing, as in “ice cubing”. Which, as you might gather, involves climbing on low ice formations.

However, your friends’ responsibilities are much greater because, in addition to you falling on them, you are also wearing crampons (think of shoes with 2 inch spikes protruding from the soles, toes and heels) and wielding an ice axe (it chops into ice – what would it do to heads and flesh?).

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