Conquering the City – The pleasure of Buildering

Shortly after I started bouldering in fall/winter 2018 I discovered that this a sport that came from the outdoors to the indoors and therefore has its roots in the beautiful forest of Fontainebleau. Due to that, I started to long the possibility to test my newly achieved climbing skills against real rock and to be outdoors more often.
But as there is not always the possibility to take trips to Bleau or Glees I did some research to find a possibility for outdoor bouldering near my hometown and found something very interesting: Buildering. The word Buildering describes the climbing on buildings in the city. Due to the fact that you can’t simply screw in bolts into communal buildings, those climbs are often only a few meters high and can, therefore, be classified as boulder-problems. Thus the name: not Bouldering but Buildering.
It’s totally fine to take just a crashpad and climbing shoes to finish climbs in the city.
With that said, it’s very important to mind the ethics of Buildering:

  • don’t climb on private buildings (without permission)
  • go by the intent „Leave no marks“ meaning always brush away your chalk traces or don’t use it in the first place, minimize black smear from rubber, don’t leave rubbish behind, etc.
  • most places you will need a spotter not only to secure your falls but to secure the surrounding as in urban surrounding there will most likely be bypassers.
  • don’t block streets, pavements, etc.
    These are probably not all the things you have to have in mind when buildering but some of the most important ones.

After I found out about Buildering, it took some additional weeks and weather improvement but finally, I took my first (short) outdoor session on a bridge in my hometown. And guess what, it was great fun! There were not topos or defined routes on that wall (yet) so I had to get my brain to work to find routes and define boulder problems. At the end of the session, I had 4 ascents on 4 routes on my account and was pretty happy with that. It showed me that my capability of rout reading/finding improved much throughout the last few months. Also, the whole wall is full of small crimps and pinches I usually avoid when climbing in the gym. But as I totally wanted to come up that wall I couldn’t climb around them this time. And it worked! This showed me that my finger and grip strength improved as well. That was fantastic and made me want to go to even more real rock even more. But it made me want to explore my home town in climbing way as well. I will definitely keep an eye on buildering spots nearby. There even as Topo-Book on German cities and buildering spots that is a good inspiration to find buildering spots in many cities.

All in all, I think buildering has many positive aspects: it opens your eyes for the infrastructure of a city. It’s a very good addition to an indoor climbing session and can definitely be very good preparation for an outdoor trip. Maybe even further, for some climbers, it can be a replacement for outdoor trips and thus relax the situation on the crags.

If you thing buildering is your cup of tea, try out the Buildering Topo Germany if you are in Germany.
Also, you can follow me on 27crags for routes and ascends as I will definitely post my ascents there.

What do you think about Buildering? Let me know!

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