By Sebastian Loewensteijn


Another weekend and bouldering is on the agenda. Bouldering is a simple form of rock climbing up cliffs which are usually about five or so meters high. It is an up coming sport in NZ and has been around since the 1930's when the French would go climbing in the forests of Fontainbleu. Since then Fontianbleu has become the world mecca for bouldering. In the last three years this kind sport has really taken off in NZ as a high adrenaline, action sport, and loads of fun of course. Even for the beginner it is a great introduction to climbing. Castle Hill is where I go in my weekend to get my fix from urban lifestyle of living.

I call up a friend on Friday night to arrange plans to make the one-hour drive to my favorite rock climbing area. Once plans are sorted, I'm off to bed for an early night. Waking up to the alarm clock means crawling out of bed to the kitchen to get things rolling. Strong coffee first, followed by a sturdy breakfast. As I throw the last of my gear into my bag, my bouldering companion pulls up the driveway beeping his horn. I greet my friend good morning and we start on our way.

The next thing is to stop in at the supermarket. The much needed goodies of a boulderer's diet consists of sweet sticky raspberry buns, a hand full of bananas, and a few cans of red bull to keep you hyping all day. Ready for the brutal punishment we're going to receive. 

Back on the road again to the sound of fast techno raging in the car to help us get moving a bit more before we start the session. After this we should be fully psyched for a hard days climbing, sunbathing, and most important thing of all, socializing and having fun with good company.

To go climbing in the maze of Castle Hill is like the Gateway to Heaven. Castle Hill is a place of weird shaped limestone boulders with nasty sloping holds that you must adapt to, and is overwhelming by the power of magic. Only then you realise there is an endless amount of bouldering to be done here.

Bouldering is really simple, even for a beginner. All you need is some climbing shoes, a piece of carpet, and maybe some chalk for your hands. It is a great way to get into climbing, as you can decide how far you want to push yourself in a comfortable environment, which is a good way to build up confidence. Boulder problems can sometimes be only a few meters high and still produce enough strenuous climbing for several hours of exertion and fun. 

On the other hand there are "high balls," which speak for themselves. At seven meters plus you need to be pretty confident because you can easily be hurt. To prevent injury you can use a bouldering mat to soften the fall, but it is still possible to fall awkwardly and injure yourself. Nevertheless, bouldering is very addictive so be careful.

Hangin, Photo: Mark Watson
I go climbing with a bunch of well-motivated friends of mine who are very energetic and hyperactive so I'm guaranteed an intense bouldering session. When arriving at Quantum Field there is always some new project (unclimbed problem) just found which my friend tells me about. We make a swift detour to check it out. After taking a close look, I grab my climbing shoes, bouldering mat and chalk in a mad frenzy. Whack, whack as my hands slap the sloping holds. I pull and grunt as my buddy spurs me on, yelling at me to use my feet instead of dragging them up. I launch off backwards plummeting towards the bouldering mat, booff as hit the mat. No injury's this time. Then on goes my buddy. He makes it looked so much easier than I did, then whack, whack to the slopers, a good foot placement and a bit of grunting and groveling and he tops out on another new problem. I flick him a high five saying "right on yo!."

This is what I do, this is what I love doing in my time off. What possess me? The challenge of fighting gravity to conquer some boulder problem that is only a few hard moves long, yet which troubles you time and time again. All for the exhilarating thrill of finishing the problem. Doing these difficult moves on a boulder offers an endless amount of excitement, fun and laughter while having a great day out with friends, bouldering the day away.