Adventures in Kentucky: Bouldering

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Last week on Adventures in Kentucky, I learned about safety and survival in the wild at Audubon State Park. This week I venture out to do some rock climbing, but this time it’s a little more basic. Tonight, I explore the high energy sport of bouldering.

We have covered the topic of rock climbing before on Adventures in Kentucky, but this time we are going to try something different. Bouldering was my first introduction to rock climbing because it is cheap and easy to do. All that you need to boulder is something to climb. For me, it was these rocks alongside Clifty Hollow Road. Nice additions as you progress are climbing shoes, chalk to help your grip and a crash pad. Even with those purchases, in comparison to standard rope climbing, it is a fraction of the cost.

Now that we’ve mentioned climbing without a rope you may wonder how dangerous and crazy one must be to try such a sport. The answer? Don’t climb any higher than you are willing to fall. For some, it’s higher than others.

Bouldering is much like solving a puzzle. Pick a place on the rock and try to get there. These puzzles can be very simple or extremely complex.

A major benefit of bouldering is the freedom. There are no ropes to restrain movement or the climbing possibilities. Puzzles can go forward, backward and upside down. When you can physically solve any such a puzzle, it gives you a huge sense of personal accomplishment. The harder it is to make the move, the greater it feels to make it.

When bouldering with a group, there is the added element of friendly competition. With good competition comes a little sarcasm. With the sarcasm and the competition there is also the element of a team. Your climbing partner serves as a spotter to help catch you in the event of a fall and to help point out potential hand holds as the climber is working.

The freedom on the rock face added with the feel of achievement and the low cost, make bouldering a perfect way to transition into the sport of climbing.

As always, if you have an adventure idea that you’d like for me to try, send an email at to