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Rock on with bouldering

Finding your outdoor bliss in Leavenworth

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Dirt bag. Rock fiend. Send master. Also known as rock climbers. Around here they are dedicated, motivated and officially insane. They live for this stuff. Especially boulderers. Bouldering outside is its own adrenalin rush. You haul in crash pads (large portable mats that offer some protection for a hard landing) and climb. No protection other than your fellow climbers spotting you to make sure you don't crack your skull if you fall, and some crash pads spread out to make a semi-flat landing area. It's just you, the rock and your head. An uncrowded day on some of the best rock around makes for some happy climbers.

So these crazy kids are having a ball, climbing Andy's Arrete ( and otherwise trying to keep warm, when suddenly it starts snowing. Hard. Hard enough to interfere with the precious texture of the rock. On to the next stop.

That is one of the advantages to bouldering. If the weather changes or an obnoxious group of climbers invades your space, you can easily move along. When you are rope climbing it's not as easy to be flexible.

Besides the snow, the intrepid adventurers encountered an additional problem. Climbers with no etiquette. So when you take the leap to climbing outside in less than ideal conditions, there are a few rules. Someone should be climbing at all times. If you aren't going to get on the rock, get out of the way. Everyone needs to climb to keep warm, plus no one wants to be standing around freezing their balls off for you to pussy foot around. Second, gear and equipment needs to be treated with respect. Crash pads are really good at resisting dirt. Add water and not so much.

Their second climbing stop of the day was by the river. Beautiful location and talk about motivation. No quitting on some of these routes because you will end up in the river's shallows. A climber in another group neglected to respect the etiquette. After tracking wet sand around he was stiffly rebuked. Awkward!

If you go: climbing outside can be dangerous. Always be prepared for the weather, bring adequate safety equipment and a good first aid kit. This trip included stops at the Straightaway boulders (, Star Wars boulders ( and Cattle Guard boulders, ( all located outside of Leavenworth.

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