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June 19, 2009

Brad making one his new problems look easy.

Brad making one of his new problems look easy.

Ten years ago, I never would’ve believed it if you’d said to me that I’d eventually get into bouldering.  I mean really, I wanted to climb “real” routes, not spend all day agonizing over some piddly three-move “line” on a rock scarcely taller than me (even though I could spend all day working out a single three-move sequence on a sport climb…).  And besides, it seemed like there was a helluva lot of spraying and posing (but any style of climbing has that I guess).  And there’s that fragile ego – boulderers climb hard, way harder than I’ll ever be capable of…but seriously, I’m hardly close to the top standard in any style of climbing, nor will I ever be – ego checked.

And now here I am, absolutely smitten with some tiny rocks, and some not so tiny rocks.  And having bags of fun doing it.  A couple of years ago, Jenn introduced me to the cordless game at the Bluffs bouldering wall – a low wall with great landings where folks have been traversing for years.  In over ten years of Bluffs cragging, I had never even bothered to check out the wall, and wound up having a blast.  This summer, we decided to invest in a couple of pads to start getting after it a bit more.  Couple that with the limited time I have to get out and climb this year, and just how much bouldering one can get done in an hour or two unencumbered by ropes, and I’ve been spending a bit more time hitting the pads instead of stretching the ropes lately.

Initially, my imagination was fairly limited, first visiting the wall and heading up instead of traversing.  Then, I started hitting some of my favourite routes at the Bluffs with the pad as my saviour instead of the rope (many of the Bluffs “routes” would just be highball bouldering problems at other venues).  Yesterday though, the endless possibilities for bouldering that have been right under my nose all these years were fully driven home.

With a thunderstorm approaching, Brad Houghson and I decided getting on a multi-pitch route at Squaw Bay after work would be a bad idea.  We instead opted for the lower-commitment option of Brad taking me on a tour of some of the boulder problems at the Bluffs, some existing and a couple of new ones he’d uncovered.  Bushwacking our way down to some blocks well below the crag, I started to curse and question what we were doing.  Brad guided me down to a couple of small boulders he’d found and cleaned up a bit, and I have to admit I was skeptical looking at the diminutive rock in front of me, seemingly shorter than I was.

But then I got on the problem and all changed forever.  We managed to kill a couple of hours on just three problems, and the shortest proved the best.  I couldn’t even do the last one, and we didn’t even get to the established boulders nearer the powerline corridor, but I’ve officially got the bug.  I spent much of last night trying to fall asleep with my mind racing about at least a dozen areas I know of with some serious bouldering potential, most of which I’m certain have never been visited by pad people.  All I need now is time, in short supply this summer!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2009 21:42

    I thought bouldering was stupid too….until I tried Cheek’s problems (the one featured in your photograph).

    Recently there are several boulders Justin Allec has cleaned at Mt. Godfrey that I’ve enjoyed in the last month, as well as the multitude of bouldering located at the top of Mt. Helen and around Dorion tower (please cut the godawful pieces of anchor made of yellow webbing at the top of Canine that I left in a weak effort to reinforce the existing anchor last year).

    See an old post on to see Justin doing a first ascent of a difficult slabby boulder…..I couldn’t even start the damn thing but golly gee I’m a good spotter.


    • Nick Buda permalink*
      June 20, 2009 07:56

      Thanks for the heads-up Andrew. Those are two of the areas I was thinking about. Jenn and I visited Mt. Godfrey for the first time in over a decade last month to do some of the newer rock routes (good fun), and were thinking there might be some potential there. I can remember monkeying around at the Tower too many years back. Awesome that folks are developing these areas a bit. One of things I love about the community here, lots of quiet activists. I’ll clearly have to get in touch with Justin and get a proper tour at some point!

  2. Brad Hughson permalink
    June 20, 2009 21:19

    The boulder in the photo is not cheeks problem, it is a problem that I cleaned!

  3. June 23, 2009 21:55

    Oops! Sorry Brad, it looked just like Cheek’s problem, mine eyes deceive me.

    Enjoying your blog Nick, I’ll slip back into the “quiet” shadows from ?whenst? I came.

    • Nick Buda permalink*
      June 24, 2009 07:45

      Thanks for the props Andrew – don’t be shy about commenting, I’m stoked people take the time to do it!

  4. June 24, 2009 14:12


    Bouldering is FUN and a great skill developer! I’m glad you’ve joined the ranks of well rounded climbers Nick!

    Now if only I could figure out how to do a hand jam I could join you….. 🙂

    • Nick Buda permalink*
      June 24, 2009 18:34

      Thanks Kendra. Tip on the hand jam thing – twist rather than squeeze, and find a crack to begin with that is your hand size, not someone else’s, and the confidence will go up.

      Now if I could actually send a problem or two around here instead of flailing, my confidence might go up too!

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