I Like Bouldering, I Like Bouldering, I Like Bouldering…

Well, here we are again. Bouldering. I want to be stoked, really, I do! But getting stoked about bouldering is hard for me. I associate it with fear and pain, neither of which happens to be a great motivator for me. One stopper move on a 10-move problem is like not being able to do 10 moves out of 100 on a route, and that’s not very encouraging. I have to convince myself that working that one move is worth it, that it’s a move that will really help supply the power gains I’m chasing, and rescue it from my brain’s default “reachy or just plain funky” file. And every fall being a deck doesn’t really start my enthusiasm, either. We have great pads, but with my bones, even the slightest fall impact racks my being. It just doesn’t feel very good. I like to feel good.

Our friend Carlos couldn’t hide his laughter when he met up with us in the boulders a couple weeks ago. “How hard do you climb again?” he teased me. He was referring to the disparity in difficulty between the routes he photographed us on in Maple over the summer and the boulder problem I was flailing on, implying that the problem should be easy for me. Oh, how I wish it worked that way! Another friend, after watching some very strong climbers on a dynamic problem, noted, “When they make the moves, it’s like they’re exploding!” Exactly. Where routes require the careful distribution of effort and energy, boulders seem to be about pure explosive movement and holding on as hard as you can. I could use a whole lot more of those latter qualities.

We have about a month left before our trip to Kalymnos. So why in the hell are we bouldering? The routes in Kalymnos are long, and loaded with rests, but we’re mostly concerned about being able to pull off the business between the rests. We’re so beat down from a year of roped climbing that we both feel we’ll get much greater benefit from powering back up than from just continuing to hang on. It may take a couple weeks once we’re in Greece to regain our ability to recover in rests, but it’ll take us the next whole month to attain even minimal increases in power. And as we’ve mentioned many times in the past, those tiny gains pay off big.

Training mode. This is one of those rare instances when I’ll allow myself to borrow from the future to facilitate my presence in the moment. I envision each of those impossible boulder moves in the crux of an incredible 30-meter pitch with gymnastic, full-body, three-dimensional trickery and kneebars. Lots of kneebars. And when I come to that slopey crimp with the slippery heel hook, and find that I have the power to stick the move, that’s where I find my stoke.


Featured photo at top of page 📸: Zoltan Papp, No Rest Days Productions. Taken at the Habitat For Humanity boulder in Marioland, Utah.


Eyeing the first big move on IsRail (V6), Moe’s Valley, Utah. 📸 Zoltan Papp, No Rest Days Productions


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