As a kid I loved to climb around on rocks.  I particularly remember enjoying Ship Rock, near Coloma, Wisconsin, (N 44° 01.477 W 089° 40.513) on the rare occasions when we could stop and play awhile.  The fact that the rock is the 224th highest mountain in Wisconsin makes it seem insignificant,  it isn’t.  My brother and I would climb around on it, but never achieved any dizzying heights and never came close to reaching the deck of the ship.  Nonetheless it was great fun and outstanding exercise.

Then, there is the sport of ‘bouldering.’  It involves climbing rocks too, but in a much more structured and technical way.  Practitioners of the sport wear special climbing shoes to scale predetermined routes up boulders that usually rise to no more than about 20 feet from the ground.  In addition to the shoes, chalk is used to keep the climber’s hands dry and a crash pad is sometimes used to prevent serious injuries from a fall.  No ropes or other devices are used.  It is essentially a type of free climbing that helps train people in the techniques of free climbing witout endangering their lives.  Indoor climbing walls provide a similar experience and are used in some bouldering competitions.

If you need a structured or perhaps competitive way to get outdoors (a great commitment device for many people), or if you just want to learn technical climbing,  bouldering may be for you.  Personally,  I’ll just climb around on rocks.

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