Better Bouldering

From left: Bradley Harrison Smith, Kara Colarusso, Jacob Firman, Sean Durning, Nicole Caldwell, and Rebekah Kosier install a bouldering wall on Better Farm's Art Barn.
We've got a brand-spanking-new bouldering wall at Better Farm, perched along an outside wall of the Art Barn.

Bouldering is a branch of rock climbing that involves climbing low rocks and boulders. It is often designed to be extremely challenging; so that while the climber may not go very high, he or she will have to be physically fit and very skilled. Bouldering is usually practiced with a large mat, so that if the climber falls, he or she will not be injured. It is also generally done in pairs, in case an emergency arises.

A bouldering wall is a type of rock-climbing wall designed specifically for the practice of bouldering. Like a conventional climbing wall, a bouldering wall is constructed with a sturdy wooden backing, and is designed to accommodate climbing holds of various shapes and sizes. Indoor and outdoor versions can be found around the world for practice, fitness, and recreation, and it is also possible to build your own bouldering wall. (Info from WiseGeek)
For our setup at Better Farm, we didn't build anything onto the existing wall; instead we simply used studs to anchor our hand and footholds. Most of what we did involved guesswork: stretching ourselves out to determine where the next piece should go, retracing our steps to pick alternative spots for additional pieces.

Check out Metolius Climbing for a great tutorial on constructing a bouldering gym at home.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.