To be an amazing boulderer you need to train and practice lots of elements of your climbing, below are just a few I’m sure that I think are important.
Physical strength – Strong fingers are key to bouldering as a lot of the moves are powerful and require body movement around the hold. The ability to push your force into your toes is vital by having a strong core that you can keep tight, static but also dynamic whilst moving.
Tactical ability – Strength is nothing without a climbing head and technique. A wise instructor once told me ‘copy the person who makes it look effortless, not the one who looks like he is auditioning for a He man film’. When bouldering, the knowledge of how to hold on efficiently with both hands and feet, and then move effortlessly between holds all adds up to making a route look effortless. Coupled with immaculate footwork to keep your centre of gravity in the right place.
Dedication – When you boulder you go! Whether you are an inch off the floor on a roof or making the final moves on a high-ball slab, give it your all and leave nothing left, try after try, after try. But dedication to your friends’ efforts as well all adds to solving the problem in front of you. Which strengths the team effort to get to the top whilst knowing that everyone has each other’s back, on and off the rock.
Flexibility – Physically you need to be able to put your toe round your ear, hold a Gaston, and then stretch fully for that final sloper. But also mental flexibility to unlock that sequence, hold the hold differently and also to take it as it comes. Some days it just seems like hard work, just roll with it, the boulder will be there tomorrow. Desire can make us lose focus and forget the real process that is needed.
Humour – Bouldering is a social sport and if you go on a bouldering trip just to climbing you will miss out. The ability to take things as they come whether you get to the top or not adds to the experience. Whether that is filling your mates chalk bag up with sticks, or having an overzealous spotter who squashes you with the pad against the boulder just as you are about to get that final hold, or asking ‘why did you do that?’ when your friend explodes off the hold and onto the mat looking a bit dazed and confused.
I’m sure that there are many more elements that make up a great Fontainebleau trip but these are the ones that are important to me, coupled with red wine, beer and good food.