What is the principle of bouldering?
Did you know that there are different types of indoor climbing? We find track climbing, and bouldering. The first category is carried out in a rope room and is practiced in pairs. The climber climbs the wall, while his partner remains on the ground with a rope. As for the other category, we climb alone, and without a rope. Because unlike route climbing, where the walls are on average 16m high, those of bouldering do not exceed 4.5m. There are also large mats on the floor, like in pole vault, to cushion in the event of a fall.
And this is precisely the bouldering climbing that we tested, at the Arkose Nation blocpark. There is a catering area, a room for children, and two rooms for adults. In one there are rather vertical walls, therefore with little inclination, and another room with more overhanging walls. The room is organized with colored routes, corresponding to the level of difficulty.
“Compared to traditional climbing which is practiced on higher walls, the effort will be a little more intense because it is shorter. It’s a bit like a 100m compared to a 1,500m”, explains Grégoire de Belmont, co-founder of Arkose.
Once equipped with slippers, let’s go for our test. We start by warming up the whole body, before learning to fall. Then, direction the room with the vertical walls, which offer a climbing a little less physical than the overhanging walls, more based on the feet than on the pulling of the arms. We try our hand at a yellow route, the easiest level, in a good-natured atmosphere.
Bouldering, a growing trend
If bouldering is so popular, it is because it has many advantages. “It has become a local sport thanks to the explosion of indoor halls in the towns”, explains Grégoire de Belmont. There are currently around 250 cinemas in France, a figure that has been increasing for several years.
And there is also a practical aspect that should not be overlooked. “You don’t need any equipment – apart from a pair of slippers that you can rent on site – or learn specific safety techniques. Easy and difficult level crossings are one next to you. the other, so we can very well come and discover bouldering with a friend, who is an expert “.
In addition, this discipline muscles the whole body, and encourages people to surpass themselves. And climbing without a rope leads to great adrenaline rushes! Something to appeal to young workers.
“To feel alive” thanks to climbing
Arguments confirmed by Rozenn Martinoia, former president of the Observatory for mountain and mountaineering practice and member of the FFCAM scientific committee, and teacher-researcher in social sciences. “Bouldering allows you to feel emotions and sensations right away”, she explains. You can’t lie to each other for long with climbing. These are the emotions that make you feel alive. ”
An effective way to feel the adrenaline of climbing but in a safe space. “You feel your limits, fear can arise, but the risk is very limited. It remains a game”, emphasizes the specialist.
A sport adapted to individualistic societies
In our busy lives, bouldering is also an easy activity to fit into the schedule since it can technically be practiced alone. “We are in a society where we want everything to be profitable very quickly, to have fun right away, without spending a lot of time in the learning box. Bouldering does not require the presence of another person. , which is ideal in individualistic societies “, details the researcher.
And the concept of these new climbing rooms often goes beyond the framework of a simple workout. At Arkose Nation, a canteen offers local, healthy and seasonal dishes. The restaurant has even received the Ecotable Label. A space also open in the evening which has something to appeal to young active people looking for a trendy place for a sporting afterwork. In recent years, the gym has become a social place of exchange and meeting. Members come to practice climbing, to test their limits, but also to have a good time.
What is the typical profile of the climber?
If according to Rozenn Martinoia, we can distinguish several profiles of bouldering climbers in terms of levels, almost all have one thing in common, their age. “It is a predominantly young population, says the researcher. There is a generational factor, because this type of room has developed a lot over the past ten years, but the block is also more traumatic for the joints. The democratization of indoor climbing in schools has also permeated the younger generation now aged 20 to 30. ”
Included in the program of the 2021 Summer Olympics as an additional sport, indoor climbing benefited from a great showcase. If the activity has already experienced a meteoric boom in recent years, the craze is still likely to accelerate as the 2024 Olympics approach.
Bouldering and outdoor climbing, the differences
“Indoor climbing has developed somewhat by analogy to what exists in outdoor climbing, explains Arkose co-founder. Fontainebleau near Paris is one of the Mecca bouldering worlds, this is where many mountaineers of the last century trained before going to the Alps. But gradually, this way of climbing on small rocks has become a discipline in its own right and has been structured with codes. “
If you want to switch from bouldering to outdoor climbing, like for example in Fontainebleau, you should get away with it. The only difference is that in the indoor area, the holds come out of the wall, while in the natural environment, the holds are in the rock. A little adaptation time is therefore necessary, but the fundamentals are the same.
On the other hand, the transition from bouldering to mountain climbing is more complicated. This practice requires knowing how to use a harness, a rope, a descender etc. In this case, it is better to train in a room offering route climbing before starting.
Bouldering and the outdoor sports craze
For several years, outdoor sports have been on the rise. A trend accelerated by the covid-19 pandemic and which is not without consequences.
“We are seeing the emergence of a new inexperienced public, who climbs indoors but does not know the mountain, and who does not accept risks, souligne Rozenn Martinoia. To keep this new audience, the mountain has been landscaped and made safe, which is not a good thing for ‘true lovers’ of the mountain. “
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