Bouldering is low climbing without ropes. We have a large “top-out” bouldering wall on which the goal is to finish your climb by getting onto the top of the structure. You can then climb back down using the “down climb” (like a ladder) at either end of the structure. The top-out wall has a low end for kids and beginners that starts off about 5 feet high and goes up to about 9 feet high. The more advanced part of the bouldering area rises to 13 feet off the padding, and has some steep angles that present tougher challenges. The padding on the floor is a foot thick in this area, to provide a safe landing. (Note that children under 13 are not allowed on the red areas of flooring.) The gym also features another 30 foot section of bouldering that is not top-out, where you can either climb to the top and come back down, or traverse across the wall.
Bouldering appeals to many climbers because it’s simple. You don’t need a rope or harness, and the problems tend to be short, so you can work on them quickly. It’s very social; you’ll often see a group of boulderers hanging out together while they each take a turn on their current “project”. At True North Climbing we’re trying to make bouldering more accessible by offering easy boulder problems that beginners can succeed at.
Bouldering problems are marked on the wall using coloured tape. Each problem starts on one or two handholds marked with a “V” in a given colour of tape, and you proceed by using only the handholds and footholds marked with that tape. The white-taped problems are the easiest, followed by the yellow tape, and on up to the camouflage tape for the most evil problems. You can also choose to make things easier by using all holds, regardless of tape colour, or make up your own problems.
Bouldering problems are graded according to the Hueco V system. In most gyms bouldering grades start at V0 (approximately equal in difficulty to a 5.10 roped climb) and go up from there to V10 (crazy hard) or higher. As a result many beginners find bouldering too difficult, and quickly decide they don’t like it. At True North Climbing we have added a grade easier than V0, called VB (B for basic or beginner). Many of the white-taped climbs are very easy for kids and beginners, so everyone can get to the top and enjoy bouldering. The free-standing rock in the middle of the gym also has easy bouldering on it (unmarked, using its natural features).
In addition to the dedicated bouldering areas, the start of almost every roped route is a boulder problem. The boulder problem goes from the starting “V” hold(s) up to a second “V” marked anywhere from 9-12 feet up (sometimes higher!). This adds about another 100 boulder problems to the gym! The grade of the boulder problem is shown below the roped route grade on the route tags.
To stay safe while bouldering, make sure you are not climbing above or below another climber. Keep your personal items away from the wall and landing zone, so you don’t fall on top of anything but the padded floor. When coming off the wall, try to land on your feet, with your knees bent. Our instructors can give you tips on spotting each other, which you may want to do, especially on the steeper sections.