Why Go Indoor Climbing & Bouldering?
It’s not always possible or practical to climb outdoors. A myriad of factors, such as weather, proximity and access to bolted routes, willingness or availability of climbing partners, all come into play.
Earlier this year, during a month spent in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, in the US (the reason matters not), I kindled a passion for indoor climbing that I had previously spurned. Until then, I had only climbed indoors out of sheer begrudging necessity, which meant, firstly, I didn’t climb often enough, and, secondly, therefore, I would always tear open my hands every time I went climbing. I never climbed frequently enough to have any lasting callouses. Yet, my passion and desire to climb never waned. It's an incredible sport, both for the body and the brain!
The cerebral element is derived from solving the puzzle of cracking each route, according to the metrics of your body, and overcoming fears, as the intensity increases. The physical aspect is self-evident. You engage muscles and tendons, from tip to toe, you had only ever taken for granted before, and place challenging demands on your physique, from balance, conditioning and cardio, to strength and resilience. Rockclimbing is an exhilarating experience!
Although I started climbing about 6 years ago, only since the beginning of this year, have I been hitting the climbing gyms on a more regular basis, from Bangkok and Sydney, to LA, Chicago and London, testament to my hectic travel schedule. I've even been getting my most reluctant friends and/or their kids on board, to give it go and been winning them over!
(Note: Kids tend to love climbing and have an innate ability! I wish I'd learned to climb as a child!)
Whether you’re afraid of heights or comfy in the air, climbing is a sport for everyone – and I mean literally everyone! In the States, I’ve witnessed incredible ability-impaired climbing programmes, and seen people minus limbs and sight, scaling walls with the aid of a reliable climbing buddy. It’s really, truly inspiring and impressive, as well as implying that no-one has a valid excuse to not give it some effort. Even the person, who first spurred me on to get passionate about climbing was himself fearful of heights.
An indoor climbing gym makes for a non-intimidating, more easily accessible, supervised environment, perfect to get climbing, whatever your age or experience, and with or without a climbing partner.
Bouldering (pictured below) is a perfect solo experience, where all you need is a chalk bag, climbing shoes and comfy clothes. Most climbing gyms have dedicated bouldering areas (some are exclusively for bouldering), where you tackle shorter roots, from easy to utterly complex, without ropes and harnesses, over padded crash mats.
Rockclimbing, like with any adventurous sport, does carry with it inherent risks, but indoor climbing can help mitigate those dangers, before you venture outdoors, by following the rules, having your abilities checked and monitored if need be, and being surrounded by a cool community that generally propagates an attitude of wanting each other to succeed. You can make friends, get advice, stay fit and develop a passion, as you make strides.
I would, however, still fervently recommend everyone who gets a feel for climbing to find an opportunity to climb outdoors. As much fun as indoor climbing can be, getting outdoors only intensifies the excitement. Getting outside, grabbing hold of real rocks, and literally getting to grips with nature offers an unsurpassed thrill in climbing!