By Allen Hamrick
Bouldering is fast becoming one of the newest attractions for those that live on the edge of sanity verses adrenalin. Boulders, free rocks, or whatever you choose to call these behemoth rocks that have freed themselves from the mountain’s grip have been a magnet for those who seek extreme adventure. Bouldering, unlike rock climbing, is just the climber, the rock face and a crash pad for when the inevitable happens. It is a rite of passage for climbers, ranging from youth to the gray years, to climb relying only on their nerve and sinew of arms and legs to get to the top of these giants. It’s a spirit within all of us to drive ourselves to the brink of disaster in one way or another, to conquer something much bigger than ourselves – far more than just getting out of bed in the morning. However, most people live and die never attempting anything more than what is in their comfort zone, which is an inconsiderate disregard for what drives us. Those that do can say that they have accomplished the unknown, beat the game so to speak and put the fear of pain and death where it belongs… on the back burner.
West Virginia has some of the best bouldering opportunities on the east coast. From Cooper’s Rock to the New River Gorge area, little known rock formations inhabit many of the state’s forests and parks. One of the best bouldering opportunities in our vicinity is when they drain Summersville Lake to winter pool. Some of the largest free boulders in the state make their home here in the depths of the lake. Only in the winter months are they revealed, and they make spectacular climbs. Some are super tough climbs that should only be attempted when you have the experience. There are many rock climbing gyms in the state where a person can hone their skills and develop the strength to start free bouldering. If you have been looking for a sport that will turn up the intensity and give your heart a good pump, you should try bouldering. It might be just what the doctor ordered.
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