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Bouldering & Climbing Info & Links

Bouldering

This photo of Rudy Evangelista on the "Sharma Traverse" (Arizona) captures the essence of bouldering. Note the size of the rock, the safety mat, the chalk. We're also guessing that Rudy doesn't spend too much time at the all-you-can-eat dessert buffet. Photo courtesy of ArizonaBouldering.com

This sport can kill you. It is dangerous and not recommended without some type of advance training.

Bouldering is the art of free-climbing improbable rocks, glacial erratics, etc. whether it be a remote desert locale at Joshua Tree, a rock in the "Gunks," or a large decorative stone at a shopping center.

The sport was introduced by climbers as a way to practice certain "moves" over and over. It has since evolved into a challenging sub-sport of climbing, complete with its own "superstars."

On smaller boulders without too many "problems," the sport can be reasonably safe for a well-conditioned individual. Most boulderers climb with a spotter, and place a mat where it will hopefully cushion a fall. Not surprisingly, a few boulderers sometimes attempt "problems" well beyond the reach of their spotter, and rely on mats that do very little to protect falling skeletal structures from sudden stops on level portions of the planet.

Boulderers have their own little subculture, and their own lingo as well. Believe it or not, some bouldering enthusiasts are climbers that are afraid of heights. Sometimes the line between bouldering and climbing blurs, but the general rule is that if the rock isn't an intrinsic part of the mountain, or if you can fall without being killed, it counts as a boulder.

A good primer on this activity is Better Bouldering from the "How to Rock Climb Series" by John Sherman. It's helpful to boulderer and gym climber alike. An online primer can be found at Rock-Climbing-Guide.com, which is a great site to quickly learn the basics of rock climbing, and sort out what "trad" means, as opposed to "sport" or "aid." Good general site.

The elite climbers compete in events such as Rock Master. These are generally weekend-long competitions, and occur all over the world. The climbers compete in various disciplines...real rock, boulder competition, climbing wall, speed climbing competition, degree of difficulty, etc. The photo below is from an Italian competition held in 2005, and was shot by Marco Togni.

See the links below for some in-depth bouldering sites.

Climbing News

The biggest thing going on right now in the climbing community is Dean Potter's illegal climb of Delicate Arch. Many climbers counter that by saying "it wasn't illegal, he free-soloed, he didn't climb." Well, he didn't fly. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it's a duck. He climbed the rock. For our take on how the climbing community should react, please click here. It isn't political, it's geological.

Climbing

This sport can kill you just as easily. "He grabbed some flake, bogeyed, and tomatoed out" -- I don't pretend to understand this stuff, yet I always thought I would some day graduate from hiking to climbing. But alas, to quote Clint Eastwood, "a man's got to know his limitations."

Bouldering & Climbing Links

Arizona Bouldering Site Great site with plenty of photos, routes, links, and a real neat "news" window. Site is added to regularly. arizonabouldering.com

California -- Joshua Tree National Park ClimbingJTree.com site has 1300+ routes, commentary on each, message boards, you name it.

Canada -- Blue Goon Climbing Site Western Canada. Alright, I admit I have no idea what any of this is about. I believe that is because A) I don't speak Canadian, or B) I don't understand climber-speak. From what I can tell, there is a lot of info on this site. Plus video.

Colorado -- Boulder Area Long the mecca for bouldering and climbing in the USA, this website is easily the online hub for the Boulder climbing community. With over 3600 route descriptions, a news section, contributed photos, and an active message area, climbingboulder.com is tops. Site run by Komar Consulting Group.

Colorado -- Boulder Area Bouldering This site provides some great information, specifically on Boulder bouldering. You might want to compare it to the Boulder climbing site (linked immediately above) for a little bit of insight in the differences between boulderers and climbers. While both are outstanding content-wise, you'll notice that the bouldering site is a little less polished, a little more disarray. Knowing a couple of bouldering enthusiasts, I would say this is just about right.

Colorado -- Boulder Area Front Range Climbing Company. Offers guided climbs, site is full of information, interesting FAQs, etc. Covers Castlewood Canyon, Garden of the Gods, Clear Crrek Canyon, Cheyenne Canyon, Boulder Canyon, North Table Mountain, etc. FRCC's President and lead guide, Brian Shelton, was a key contributor in establishing climbing routes in Red Rock Canyon Open Space.

Kentucky -- Red River Gorge Climbing Coalition The RRGCC is a membership organization and coalition of sport and traditional rock climbers, climbing gyms, rock climbing guides and outfitters, and others working together from over ten different states. The RRGCC's mission is to protect, ensure, and promote responsible climbing at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky through self-awareness, education, support, and dedicated efforts with one another, nonclimbers, and land managers.

Midwest/Minnesota W-Trek is a regional site, specializing in gear, but with all sorts of information, local reports, etc. for the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes and parts of Canada. Bouldering, ice climbing, sea cliffs, Voyageurs NP, Quetico...well done site.

Nevada -- Red Rocks Climbing School USA website. Nothing here on route info, or anything like that. Link is purely for those interested in seeking instruction/training in Red Rocks area near Vegas.

New England Bouldering Site This is one of the best bouldering sites on the web, without question. Emphasis is on the northeast U.S., with locations, news, suggestions, photos, gear info, message board, and a page of articles and stories that makes very fine reading. The site also offers videos and whatnot for sale.

New Mexico This is the Rock climbing in New Mexico website by Grant Brooks. Good site to know.

New Mexico -- Las Conchas climbing/bouldering page with a couple routes & photos.

New Mexico -- Percha Creek climbing site Hillsboro, NM on New Mexico State University website. It's a jpeg with a lot of info.

New Mexico -- U-Mound Comprehensive bouldering site with all sorts of diagrams, routes, aerial photos, descriptions of "problems" -- check this site out if you want a better insight into pure bouldering. Site by by Andy Mayer and Bernard M.E. Moret great photos!

New York -- Gunks Climbing School USA website. Nothing here on route info, or anything like that. Link is purely for those interested in seeking instruction/training in the Shawangunks.

Oklahoma -- Robbers Cave State Park this is a brief bouldering page written by John Hogge, with some other helpful info. We suggest you check this out, then look at another Robbers Cave site featuring some great photos by Evan Anderson.

Oregon Mazamas Climbing group, approximately 3,000 members, headquartered in Portland. Emphasis on Cascade climbs. Looks like a well-oiled machine.

Southeast USA The Flatliners' Website presents a hub of information and opportunities for climbers living in the Southeastern United States to get acquainted and pursue regional climbing activities. They actively promote climbing, climbers, and share the climbing spirit. Additionally, the site serves as a resource for climbers planning visits to the Southeast or exploring new areas to climb. The Flatliners Adventure Club Website is maintained by Wayne Busch. It is a non-commercial, non-profit, un-sponsored, independent, private site. And it's great.

Southwest USA New Mexico & Texas bouldering & climbing site. Covers the popular locales as well as some little known and out-of-the-way places. Very good site with a lot of information, called "climbing.s5"

Utah -- Moab ClimbingMoab.com has over 460 routes, commentary, ratings, messages, photos. Good all-around bouldering site. Indian Creek, Castle Valley, Canyonlands, Arches, etc.

Vermont -- Mission Farm Road/Killington Area small cliff with a surprising number of routes off Rt 4.

Wisconsin -- Devils Lake Community type site with over 300 routes, plus comments, photos, messages, "partner-finder," you name it. Good all-around site.

I recently picked up an out-of-print book, The Climber's Handbook, at a garage sale. It has a rock climbing section (by Ron Fawcett), an ice climbing primer (Jeff Lowe), an alpine section (Paul Nunn), and the basics of going on an expedition (Alan Rouse)...terrific photos, illustrations, step-by-step instructions...but you have to supply your own nerve. This is one heck of a book. There are plenty of newer volumes available, but I happen to think this one spells it out well. You won't find it new, but the link above will enable you to pick up a used copy through Amazon. It's more than just a "how-to"...if you're new to climbing, and aren't sure where the sport is taking you or which discipline is right for you, this book will help you define your goals.

Where to go for more information: Well, if you know a little something about bouldering, climbing, etc., click on any of the regional links above, and climb away. If, on the other hand, the whole thing is a bit new to you, you may find the jargon a little disarming. I suggest visiting one of the on-line suppliers that offer a lot of good information and how-to type stuff. The one we have an affiliation with is Backcountry.com, which can get you started with crash pads, building your own practice wall, etc. .

-- Rick Bolger

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