Unleash Your Inner Climber: The Ultimate 101 Guide to Bouldering in Singapore

Ask anyone today what sport has recently gained a ton of popularity, and chances are they’d mention Bouldering. While perhaps many in Singapore might not have heard of it anytime before around 2020, they almost certainly would’ve heard of it by now. But what exactly is bouldering, and what is it all about? 

For starters, you’ve probably heard of something similar — Rock Climbing. Yes, it looks a lot like bouldering, but there is one difference, the height. Bouldering walls rarely exceed 5 metres in height, while rock climbing commonly sees you scale walls more than 9 metres high, with a belay system to ensure that you stay safe while climbing.

Bouldering, however, focuses more on the overall strength and technique of the individual, while rock climbing puts more emphasis on endurance, which means that on bouldering walls, you tend to see more variety in terms of how people approach the routes/problems instead of the linear routes more commonly seen on Rock Climbing Walls. 

Furthermore, the fact that bouldering routes are all set by a verified route-setter (who are usually national climbers, etc.) means that you can have specific routes which will make your jaw drop and make you wonder how these individuals can finish it on their first attempt, let alone at all.

So say you want to get started; Where do you have to go? What do you have to do? How do you go about it? How much do you have to pay? We’ll be getting right into all of them here.

The Where?

Where should I go?

Well, first of all, climbing in Singapore is really accessible. With over 40 gyms in Singapore, it should be easy to find a gym near you. Of course, big-name players like Boulder Planet, Fit Bloc and Boulder+ are usually full of people during peak periods. But there are also the smaller ones, such as Ark Bloc, which, though less notable, still promise a fun time.

But, in truth, any gym near you will suffice. If travelling isn’t a major concern, you can also try out some of the bigger gyms, such as Boulder+ at The Chevrons, or Fit Bloc at The Oasis, which offer a greater variety of routes owing to the vast space available. There isn’t a single “best gym” in Singapore, so in all honesty, do try out some of the available gyms and see which one you like best!

The What?

What are Passes, and should I get them?

So what should you do now that you’ve picked a gym and are already on the way there? Well, it’s time to get an entry pass to use the gym!

Most gyms offer a one-time day pass which is usually pretty expensive, with a fair few places charging S$28 for it. There are other options, but the day pass will suffice if you’re there to try and experience bouldering for the first time. 

Usually, regular climbers will purchase either a monthly pass or a multipass. Monthly passes offer unlimited access to all of the brand’s outlets (i.e., a Boulder+ Monthly Pass allows you to access both outlets anytime). Other types of plans are offered by different gyms, such as Boulder Planet’s BP Hopper subscription, which allows you to access their gyms 4 times a month.

As for multipasses, they are also preferred by those who want to climb together with friends, so a one-time payment grants you 10 passes that can be used at any time and can link to your friend’s accounts, allowing them to use your multipass whenever they want. Just make sure they remember to pay you for it afterwards!

Also, note that most gyms require you to create a member account with them first, so be sure to do that before you head over!

What attire should I wear?

In truth, there isn’t a dress code for bouldering. Heck, people even wear jeans to climb, which can be restrictive in terms of movement, but that’s beside the point. The general rule of thumb is that: As long as you are comfortable, wear whatever you want. 

Though of course, there are some preferences, such as long pants/tights in case you don’t want to scrape your knee when climbing, or even looser-fitting shirts for ease of movement.

Then there are the shoes. Climbing shoes can be rented from different gyms at various rates, so you’ll have to check them accordingly. More often than not, climbing shoes are meant to be tight to ensure maximum grip and ease of movement, but for your first time, go for a size that fits just right – not too tight, nor too loose. With that, you’re ready to climb!

The Who?

Who should I climb with?

Of course, go with your friends if they’re into climbing. Some of them might even have passes for you to use, meaning that you would pay less for your first time! Furthermore, some places allow monthly pass holders to bring a first-time friend to climb for free. What’s not to love about that?

Besides that, friends are generally better as you get to bond with them while doing an activity; it certainly beats climbing solo or with strangers. But that’s not to say that climbing alone is bad – it can be somewhat therapeutic even.

If you and your friend are both new to bouldering, some places, such as Boulder Planet, offer introductory climbing classes too. These are 80-minute introductions to the basics, and afterwards, grant you 2 weeks of unlimited entry to their gyms, along with free shoe rental!

The How?

How should I go about climbing?

To start, simply know that there is no hard and fast rule when climbing. While everyone will use similar moves, there are also many different methods of finishing the same route. So in truth, do whatever feels right to you. 

That’s the simple answer, but in reality, there are so many different moves and styles of climbing; too much that listing all of them would make this article way too long. 

In truth, how you would approach a problem is slowly learnt, in which you incorporate different moves and whatnot into your beta – a term used to describe your preferred method of finishing a route.

How should I hold the holds? 

In terms of the holds, there are a few different types that you’ll encounter. Some of the more commonly-seen ones are: Jugs, Crimps, Pinches, Slopers, Underclings and Pockets, and they all have different ways of holding them.


Bouldering: Jug

Jugs are essentially your best friend when it comes to climbing; They are super easy to hold, similar to holding the handle of a jug of water, meaning that as long as you can get a firm grip, you’ll be able to hang on to it. 

These are usually seen on easier routes, though some route-setters like to incorporate some jugs into more challenging routes to reward the climber with a space to rest.


Bouldering Hold: Crimps

Crimps are generally identified as the tiny holds on the wall that seems more like a foothold than a handhold, but do not be fooled; they are indeed handholds.

Because of the small size of crimps, they require a lot of finger strength to hold, meaning that your fingertips have to bear the brunt of your body weight when holding onto a crimp. 

There are different ways of holding a crimp, but the best way is to straighten your fingers and hold it. As much as possible, try not to close up your whole hand when holding one, as it’ll lead to an increased risk of finger injuries. 


Bouldering Hold: Pinch

To hold a pinch, you, well, pinch the hold. Pinches are generally easy to hold but are sometimes combined with other types of holds to make them more difficult.

One such example is the use of crimps; placing them in such a way that forces the climber to only rely on their finger strength while holding it in a pinching manner.


Bouldering Hold: Pocket

Pockets can be notoriously difficult to hold, for they are essentially what you read – a hold that only allows for a few of your fingers to fit. They also vary in depth, meaning that some can be as shallow as crimps, while others can be as deep as jugs. 

All in all, however, be sure to warm up your fingers before attempting to climb finger-intensive routes that might include tons of crimps or pockets, or you will be running the risk of injuring your finger, which might put you out of action for an extended period of time.


Bouldering Hold: Sloper

One of the harder handholds on the list, slopers usually ask, “How in the world do you hold that?”. And for a good reason – slopers typically do not have an edge for you to hold on to, so it is more or less a rounded or fully flat surface.

The only thing you can rely on when holding a sloper is the friction between your hand and the hold, meaning that slopers are usually daunting to newer climbers and may take longer to get used to holding.

Fret not though, because, with time, you’ll learn where the sweet spot to hold the sloper is, making them seem less daunting. Just make sure to have as much contact with the hold as possible.


Bouldering Hold: Undercling

Underclings may seem rather odd to newer climbers, because if your aim is to climb up the wall, why would you want to have a hold that goes against that direction?

In truth, underclings can prove to be a great help while bouldering. It provides a sense of stability while you take a rest; the higher you place your foot, the easier it will be to hold underclings.

At the same time, they can also be a common route killer as the angle at which they’re placed can mean that you’ll fall if you do not grab it with the right amount of force.

Many different types of holds can be used as an undercling, so knowing what type of hold it is and how to hold it will help you a lot when planning out your beta.

That was a general overview of bouldering, though, in truth, the practical part is most definitely best learnt by trying it out yourself and consistently going to gyms to get better. Just note that your body, especially your forearms and hands, will feel extremely sore after your first session.

But no worries, because you’ll get used to it with time. If you have more burning questions though, Boulder Planet has a blog that talks more about these different topics that you can check out too.

Happy Bouldering!

Photos by Glenton Weng of the DANAMIC Team. Additional visuals courtesy of Allan Mas on Pexels.

Glenton Weng

Plays FPS Games, but prefers JRPGS

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