Bouldering Outside, Was My Mind Blown?

This weekend I got to accomplish one of my climbing goals! I went bouldering outside! Although I have sport climbed and top roped outside, I have never bouldered outside. I love trying out different experiences, and this was no different. I had a blast! And in my binary scale (its either 10/10 or 0/10) I would give it a 10/10 would do it again. Below I have a captured a few things I either learned or got to finally experience.

Crashpads are small

I feel very lucky to have had a great friend to take us out and show us the ropes (hehehe, see what I did there?) Not only is he a stellar guy, but he was willing to bring a bunch of his crashpads with him. Rarely did we ever set up 1 crashpad on a route. Typically there were at least 2. For us beginners, this pad party was really comforting.

Spotters are amazing

I knew going into my day that spotters are nice for bouldering outside. What I didn’t know was the extent of a spotter’s job! A spotters job is to make sure the climber falls on the crash pad as safely as possible. If the climber falls near the edge of the mat, the spotter shoves them as much as possible to to be on the mat when they land. Similarly, if the climber starts falling in a compromising position (say head first) the spotters can help to shove them so they land in a safer way.

I even benefited when my spotter helped to stabilize me when the area I fell on was on a hill. They stood downhill and made sure I would not keep falling after I fell.

And like a good climbing partner they shouted encouraging things at me, and beta (when I wanted it)!

Top outs are strange

In the gym I’m pretty used to jumping down or downclimbing. Turns out that most of the routes outside involved topping out! This means you don’t jump down, but you keep going and climb on top of the boulder. To get down, you just look for an area where it is easier to down climb or jump!

While I enjoyed the experience of not having to let go, I was intimidated by topping out. This area the top outs were really smooth and sandy! Sometimes I felt like my hands were just sliding around while I was desperately trying to find something to hold on to!!

I also was intimidated as not not even 10 minutes into our day we found two gentleman stuck on top of their boulder. Turns out this boulder was pretty high all around it. We ended up moving our crash pads over so they could jump down to a double stacked pad. I think only one did that. The other elected to use a down climb he thought was better.

Rocks break!

I’m not saying that plastic holds indoors don’t break. In fact I know the opposite! I had a friend break his foot because a piece of plastic popped off at the wrong moment. BUT, it is much less common. If I had to guess, I’ve been bouldering indoors over 100 times. Never have I personally seen a piece of plastic fall off. The one time I was bouldering outside I had a rock piece break off on me! Luckily, my spotter was not standing in the way of the rock I kicked off and everyone was safe. I could have easily kicked the rock off right onto someone not paying attention.

I think it helped that the weather was perfect. I wore just enough sunscreen, and I brought plenty of food, but it was a perfect day outside! Now that I’m back indoors climbing, I’m dreaming of heading back out there! I’m also scouring the classifieds looking for my own crash pad so that I can be less dependent and go out when I want too! If you have any good deals I would love to hear from you. 🙂

I’m excited to say I’m heading back at the end of this month! 😀

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