Over the past months I’ve been bouldering regularly at The Depot near Leeds (New Pudsey).
I’m also taking part in the bouldering leagues. Thirty problems, ranging from easy to seemingly impossible. These are changed every month. They’re a great way to evidence improvement. You award yourself 10 points if you ‘flash’ a problem, 7 points if you get it on your second attempt, then 5 and finally 4 points if you need four or more attempts. The maximum score per round then is 300.
There are many other problems to work on. They are graded by colour and overlap in difficulty. So white problems are the easiest, then blue, black, red and others beyond my capability. These are also changed regularly. The thing is I can never remember which one’s I’ve done.
Whilst printed sheets are available for the competitions, showing a map and scoring grid, nothing exists for general use. To fill this gap I’ve created one, which I make available here, released under a Creative Commons licence. The link below is for the PDF version, the SVG and PNG versions are available from the Depot Map page.
The last time I played roller derby was on 6 May last year. I’d organised a birthday scrim for Hylander and Fox. We had a handful of friendly referees, only three NSOs and just enough skaters to make it six a side. We made a mess of laying the track. Despite all this it was a lovely game and I felt it was a natural point to quit the sport.
I’m still skating in-lines, as a have done for almost 15 years now. That makes roller derby seem like a blip in the time line! On holiday in Berlin last August I covered plenty of kilometres, most noticeably Skate by Night and a roll out to Tempelhof airport.
I’ve also reverted to climbing. I have climbed for many years, possibly more than I’ve skated? I’ve managed occasional visits to The Depot and Leeds Wall in recent years, but there are only so many hours in the day.
I am now bouldering regularly, often two or three times a week. I’m taking part in the bouldering leagues and I’m seeing noticeable improvement in my ability.
I can’t help but compare it to roller derby. There are no ‘teams’ exactly; the ability to climb a problem rests solely with the climber. But I often climb with Rachel (colleague) and Colin (her boyfriend) and we tackle to problems differently/together/as a ‘team’.
The community is very friendly and willing to give advice. It’s perhaps even more inclusive than roller derby? Climbers of different gender, physical build and ability all co-exist without issue. The barriers to entry are very small too. Children as young as five (my estimate) through to adults even older than me are regulars. Equipment requirements are minimal, shoe hire an option for those wanting to try out.
The things that I miss from roller derby are the sweatiness, the physical contact and some of the people. Co-ed games were the most fun because the macho players generally stayed away from them.
Would I go back to playing? Maybe…