Do you know that it actually is true that blue is the hardest colour to see? It’s a physics thing, for real. It’s no surprise that I have a beef with the colour blue. Not like. the color itself, but the blue bouldering routes.
I’ve started bouldering almost half a year ago, after being introduced to it by a friend. I’ve always enjoyed climbing and fondly remember my experiences with the activity in the Belgian Ardennes and secondary school gym classes. Now, climbing high walls is cool, but it requires a partner at all times, so bouldering felt more fitting.
For those not familiar with bouldering, it’s a sport that focusses on the technical aspects of climbing. Short ,technical routes that go up to like max. 4 meters on a straight or overhanging wall. Difficulty is shown in different colours of the routes, to make it easier for you. You climb with just your wits, body and a pair of climbing shoes that fit so tight you feel like a ballerina. It’s funny how that colour thing works When you start, you just see the colour of that level and slowly you find, while your skill advances, your eyes shifting to the next ones…
Very close to my home is a boulder gym, named Monk, which has 3 locations in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven). The staff is friendly and laid back, there’s usually some cool jazz, triphop, hiphop or electronic music playing while you climb. Some people come in groups and chat a lot, but I often go alone and enjoy the solitude of my efforts. There’s a moment between starting the climb and tapping of on the top grip (usuallly there’s an indicated start grip and a finish grip), where sounds fade away and there’s nothing but you and the wall. It’s your physical efforts versus nature in a way, it’s a moment of complete focus and tranquillity.
So for me the name Monk seems fitting, because it’s not about your fancy outfit or cool shoes, not about impressing others (I really think there’s little of the ‘gym flexing’ going on in general). It’s about you and that challenge, which makes it very pure for me. It’s not about succeeding, there’s no points to be handed out, it’s a very solitary, mental thing to me and that’s probably why I enjoy it so much. It cleans away my thoughts.
But still, blue is the hardest color, it’s the wall you hit when muscle and ability have gotten you as far as it can. It’s no longer easy or doable, now it becomes harder to progress. I will have to ask for help to move forward and that is also a lesson, because it breaks that solitude open again. I imagine that climbing in this form (or any form) isn’t for everyone, but I recommend it anyways. It shapes your body and mind, strengthening both. Facing your limits is not always pleasant, but it gives you the chance to break through them. That’s probably what I love most about this sport.
So I am certain I’ll start liking blue at some point.
The picture is not me, it’s a stock photo. Since I really don’t want to offend anyone by misusing their work, I use stock photos.