You Should Boulder, Too!

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group photo

Last week, Vertigo Climbing Center held a bouldering competition called Psyche Up Vol. 2. The event aimed to gather funds for the victims of the Typhoon Haiyan. This post will soon be updated to include the names of the winners. What matters most to the competitors is not really who won, but who we were able to help.

Because bouldering is a relatively new sport in Cebu, I would like to make this post about how it all works. I love bouldering (and its big brother rock climbing) because it is probably the least competitive sport. It is the only sport I know where competitors would sincerely cheer for their opponents. I can only think of two reasons that explain this.

1. The bouldering and rock climbing community in Cebu is a very small. The biggest crowd I have been is made up of 27 people (there are a lot more but they come at different times). This makes everybody’s bonds stronger and we hold on to that bond even when we are competing against each other.

2. Bouldering is a static, almost meditative, sport. It relies mainly on balance, analysis, and patience. It lacks that pace that drives competition.

These are just wild shots at trying to explain something that has always been. Maybe the real answer is way off but guessing is always a good place to start. For now, I will attempt to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about bouldering.

What is bouldering?

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing done on lower levels. Ropes and harnesses are not used because the climbs are below 20 feet. In Cebu, the highest hold is placed no more than 15 feet from the floor. Crash mats are used to break fall. Many climbs/routes are completed in three or four moves.

Jayjay doing a dino at Vertigo Climbing Center

How did bouldering evolve?

Bouldering has been developed by rock climbers to increase technical climbing skills. It is comparable those all-out short-distance sprints that runners do to train for longer-distance runs. Bouldering is very technical, many climbers fall before being able to successfully complete a route. But because it is done on very low ground, the risk of injury is minimal (I have never heard of anyone get injured while bouldering here in Cebu).

Because it is quite technical, you will need to have a lot of imagination to successfully complete a route in one try. It requires you to see yourself do something even before you actually do it.

How difficult is it?

Like any sport, bouldering is only as difficult as you want it to be. You will start doing the routes that suit your ability and progress to more difficult routes as you go along. Many people are intimidated by the sport because they over-think the fitness requirements. Bouldering is not about strength or fitness, it is about balance and imagination.

Is it expensive?

A three-hour session at Vertigo Climbing Center costs 130 pesos. Monthly membership is 1,200 pesos (climb your heart and hand blisters out for 30 days). Rock climbing shoes is necessary if you want to pursue advanced climbing. You can use your running shoes for a start.

Rock climbing shoes usually cost between 3k and 4k. I bought a used pair for 500 pesos. It is a little beat up but it gets the job done.

Is it dangerous?

Smoking is more dangerous to your health.

How do I prepare for my first trip to the climbing gym?

Sleep well: nothing breaks performance more than the lack of sleep.

Get the good vibes going: I won’t talk technical here because you will learn all those things as you go along. You will learn them naturally. Climbing is a primal skill, it is hard-coded in your genes, all you have to do is give them a quick tap. Just be positive about it. My success rate at anything I do is largely determined by how positive I feel about them. I think it goes the same way for everyone, too!

* Vertigo Climbing Center is in MetroSports (near IT Park, Lahug, Cebu), opens 12pm-9pm.

Written by:


Bal Marsius.  He is not a drug lord but an aspiring porn star. You won’t discover the meaning of life by reading any of these posts. This is not even a travel blog. Everything here is an accident that happens when my head collides with the keyboard. 

5 Responses to You Should Boulder, Too!

  1. Anthony Kevin Batayola 7 December, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    Hello Mr. Bal. I am sincerely interested in learning climbing (and hopefully bouldering) and have actually started small bits of training on my upper body strength for that purpose, I’m also scouting for a local climbing gym which is why I’m here. (: I have two things I’d like to ask you about: First, which brands and where are reliable stores where I can purchase climbing shoes? (I’ve looked at North Face, Columbia, Habagat, etc. but none seem to have the climbing shoes with the tri-point tip). Second, is there a Cebu-based club or group that coaches and accepts members for training? Thanks in advance for the info. (:

  2. ntm 13 April, 2018 at 7:49 pm #

    Is this the only place for indoor bouldering in Cebu? And how varied are the levels.. I am trying to find pictures of what vertigo climbing has in terms of what kind of bouldering levels down they have


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