By BLOCKHELDEN Founder Simon Brünner
Surf-Fight in Malibu
Bouldering is at a crossroads, it has to decide!
Will bouldering move into the league of brutal sports or will we manage the mammoth task of staying true to our roots and remaining a sport with a warm and friendly community?
Let’s take surfing as an example! Sure, it’s a fantastic sport. Cliché-wise, you think of tanned dudes who are all friends, they say hang loose, and embody the lifestyle of endless vacation. The perfect wave is all they seem to need. But as is often the case, appearances are deceiving. Surfing has become an aggressive ego show in many places, driven by an elitist localism (See video). Newbies and strangers are not welcome and should get the hell away from the hot spots.
How bouldering still is:
Boulderers protect and support each other!
Most of the time it makes sense to learn from history. Most of the time nobody does that! Because this time it is different, not comparable and generally too exhausting to think about it.
Just like surfing, climbing and bouldering also started with a few nice dudes in deserted places. They did a few hard moves together, chilled in nature and nibbled a little marijuana together around the campfire in the evening. Everyone was welcome. It was important that no one was injured and if so, everyone helped to limit the damage. There weren’t any strangers, because if you weren’t alone at the spot, you said hello to everyone and chatted briefly about the sport you love. So you knew each other by then at the latest, trusted each other and gave each other tips for the next climbing trip or a still unknown little bouldering block.
BLOCKHELDEN Founder Simon Brünner // around 2001 // Magic Wood (Switzerland)
Back then, being a climber meant consciously entering a parallel world. Where experiences were worth more than material things. Back then, being a climber meant consciously entering a parallel world. Where experiences were worth more than material things. Healthy nutrition was lived just as much as a courteous treatment of one’s fellow human beings. It didn’t matter if you were strong or weak, everyone just had a good time together. Meeting new people was part of the desire to travel.
BLOCKHELDEN Founder Simon Herr // around 2000 // Rocklands (South Africa)
The Present – Anno 2021
Arriving in 2021, unfortunately, quite a lot of that has been lost. No one has been saying „Servus“ to each other anymore. Many come to the rock and place their rope bag in front of the route to reserve it – just as the cruise tourists throw their towels on the sunbeds.
Of course, in the past you were almost always alone, so it was not necessary. But if someone did come along, then you just chat friendly, left your rope in the route for him and cleaned the holds. In many places this has remained. But primarily on rocks that are „harder“ and „more dangerous“, because of difficulty, the climbing posers are simply not present here. The easiest way to recognize „newschoolers with wrong motivation“ is unfriendliness. This unfriendliness that he or she brings to our sport from his or her usual environment immediately reveals that he or she did not grow up climbing. So if you don’t want to stand out as a newbie, drop your coolness and just say hello or Servus to everyone in a friendly way when you are with us in Franconia. Be nice and relax!
If you’re an old hand, it’s up to you to lead by example, not lecture. This requires patience and also a certain frustration tolerance, I know. But who, if not you, lives it?
Back to the bad parts: Boulder spots that are easily accessible and pretty safe from the fall area show the newschool trend quite clearly. There is a muscle show in the parking lot, the stylemobiles are placed all around. It’s no longer function at the lowest price that’s important but color nuances and off-road headlights with chrome edges.
Jan Hojer (standing / Worldcupwinner), Alexey Rubsov (sitting / world champion) and Jernej Kruder
in the background having fun at the International Bouldercup Frankenjura qualification at BLOCKHELDEN
The Future – Anno 2030
Now there are two ways we may experience in 10 years:
- Society infiltrates bouldering:
a.k.a. THE MOST LIKELY
The society with its values has established itself in bouldering. Bouldering shoes sometimes cost 350€. You say hello only to those with 350€ shoes, those with the same size biceps, those of the same age and with the same beard. When one of the strong ones enters the mat, the weak one has to leave reverently. Words are not exchanged here. There are bouldering halls for the cool ones. And bouldering gyms for the others. The internet is full of fight videos of boulderers fighting in the woods. ( Yup, the surfers laughed about it too…)
- Bouldering infiltrates society:
a.k.a. THE STRESSFUL WAY
We, the climbers, are aware of our values and attitude to life and carry them proudly and confidently into society. We do not educate, but we exemplify. In the climbing gyms and bouldering halls, we carry good things into the middle of society.
This includes saying hello often and in a friendly manner, even when people stare at you in confusion… just keep saying hello.
This includes welcoming everyone equally. Whether nerd, gamer, muscle man or Muslim or all of the above. Whether homosexual, black and Britney Spears fan or average orange monogamous hetero.
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to us.
As we live in the hearts of our cities we exemplify why all of us became climbers. We are climbers because
- the experience is more important than owning
- community is more important than winning
- we are more impressed by friendliness than by performance
- we experience ourselves as part of nature
- because we have never stopped playing
SIMON BRÜNNER – February 2021
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