A theme for this blog is expecting more out of your park. Purpose-built climbing boulders are a great addition to parks and can even work as “functional art.” They meet most playground height requirements, do not require one to use ropes, harnesses, or climbing gear, fill a small footprint, and can be value designed towards a budget. They require a rubber mulch or other soft material of sufficient depth to cushion falls; however, as they are not very high, serious injury is unlikely.
One fun thing I like to do is try to work across the wall, rather than always try different problems to the top. A problem is a term used in bouldering to describe a particular path that a climber takes in order to complete the climb – much the same as a route in roped climbing. In climbing/bouldering gyms these different paths/routes are marked with different colors. Two climbers working on the same wall can be solving problems at very different difficulty levels. The bouldering scale in the United States runs from a V0 (roughly a 5.9 rope climb route) to V16 (near impossible). Boulderers do not always agree on the difficulty of a particular problem using a single system due to differences in size, reach, and other factors. Therefore, a consensus about equivalences among the various systems does not exist.
Perhaps underscoring climbing’s egalitarian nature, it is one of the few sports that I can think of where individuals of widely different skill levels can work out together with mutual satisfaction. Imagine training for a marathon with someone who runs six-minute miles if you are a slow runner, or playing tennis with someone who competes if you are just learning – both parties will likely have a terrible time. This is not the case with bouldering.
Expect more from your parks – climbing walls are a great amenity option.
Check out some of the cool products from Eldorado Climbing Walls out of Boulder, CO.