We’ve done a fair bit of climbing over at The Allrounder over the past couple of years. Some outside, some on climbing walls, hell, we even ended up trying a spot of ice climbing over in Chamonix – we weren’t very good at it though. It’s really tough.
It’s a pretty damn popular sport these days in fact. And rightly so. Not only is it a great way to get fit and tone up the old muscles, it’s also fun. Which is not necessarily what people expect when they talk about fitness. There are various climbing walls popping up all over London, which means that it’s never been easier to head down and give it a go. Climbers are a nice bunch of people as well, you might even make some new friends.
As we’re not exactly newbies to the world of climbing, we decided to send The Allrounder friend Sam Crossman down to Vauxwall Climbing Centre, to see what a first-timer thought of bouldering…
Ever a fan of fitness-based puns, and with a post-Christmas lethargy to burn off, we headed down to the VauxWall Climbing Centre, within a few minutes of Vauxhall station.
After a brief video induction and wavering any climbing-related deaths, we proceeded with our introduction to bouldering, or ‘climbing without ropes’ as you may call it.
Now firstly, if you’ve ever bouldered outdoors, this is really not the same; I was half (completely) expecting very large plastic boulders to climb up and over, whereas this is more indoor climbing at lower height. Still with some cavernous areas to keep you on your toes, both literally and metaphorically.
We wedged our feet into some climbing shoes which left very little room for wiggling those toes, and joined our friendly trainer to kick things off.
After a quick warm up of the classic star jumps and jogging on the spot, we were shown around the centre, which caters for all levels from the very beginners to much more advanced.
The first trial saw us put to the test, following some green and purple holds (2 of the easiest), sideways across the wall. However easy it appears at the beginning, it definitely gets harder, and quickly. We were reliably told that there are noticeable plateaus in ability after every few levels so you really do need to stick at it.
Like the first day at ‘big school’ we were then let loose on the proper walls, side-by-side with real human beings! It’s a lot of fun climbing up higher, without the use of ropes, but lacking a little patience, I tried to run before I could walk. This often left me somehow stuck, whilst completely surrounded by holds. I didn’t want to be seen as cheating the colour system by the more experienced ‘boulderers’ around me.
Once you’re deemed competent you’re given some free time to test your newly learned skills. Sadly on this occasion my hands and arms severely lacked the energy. A Christmas where lifting a pint glass or Prawn Vol au Vent to my mouth hadn’t left me in peak physical fitness.
At the end of the day…sleep, you will be tired and achy. But try again, I’m reliably informed it gets less painful, and is very fun to climb again as an adult!
Useful bouldering tips;
Always look up. Someone falling on you from 15 feet may chafe.
Chalk your hands. 5 painful callouses the next day are not a good look for a date.
Be patient. Try varying routes using the same colour holds, and getting comfortable before progressing.
Fill out forms before you start. I literally couldn’t write my own name.
An induction bouldering session at Vauxwall costs £20, with subsequent sessions costing £10.50 peak and £7.50 off-peak. For more information on the Vauxwall Climbing centre, head over to their website here.
Picture credits: Vauxwall Climbing Centre