First Date? 5 Reasons To Go Bouldering Instead Of Rock Climbing

So you’ve got this crazy idea to go rock climbing as a first date with your significant-other-to-be?

Very cool! 

But is rock climbing really a good first date? Or would bouldering perhaps be a better idea, especially if it’s the first time that you go climb?

In this post, I’ll give you some of my thoughts on how to make that first climbing date a stellar experience.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to give you any cheesy dating advice. 

Just the objective stuff that’s worth it for you to consider before diving in to a date at the rock climbing gym.

What makes me qualified to write this post?

Well, not only am I a rock climber, but I actually went rock climbing on a first date once… 

And I must’ve done something right, because she’s still my girlfriend!

But maybe I just lucked out. 

Because I definitely learned a couple of things that day, that I’d do differently if I had to do it over again.

So, are you ready for some down to earth tips for your adventurous first date?

I expected no less!

Here are the reasons you want to go bouldering instead of rock climbing on a first date:

1.  Chances are one of you doesn’t have a Belay Certificate

Unless you’re an experienced rock climber yourself, and you know for a fact that the guy/girl that you fancy is experienced as well (in rock climbing 😉 ), you’d do best not to go rock climbing for a first date.

Disappointed? 

Don’t be. Bouldering is just as much fun and a no lesser climbing discipline.

I draw this tip from my personal experience, because I found out the hard way what the downside can be of rope assisted climbing as a first date.

The thing is, many indoor climbing gyms require you to have a belay certificate before you’re allowed to hold the rope on which your partners life is contingent.

And rightfully so!

Tough luck when your partner doesn’t have such certificate, though.

The implication of this is that only one of you is allowed to climb up. The other one will be condemned to belaying only.

And that’s not that much fun, is it?

If you’re lucky, an instructor may have some time to stand there next to your partner to watch over the belaying while you climb. That way both of you could theoretically climb… 

But having a complete stranger as a third wheel just for safety’s sake?

That may be desirable when you’re just at the climbing gym to learn how to climb. 

But thatś not your goal on a first date, is it?

Instead, you want to have some romantic quality time. 

And having an instructor watch your every move while you’re at it? That is hardly something that you’d wish for.

Of course, it may lead to a hilarious situation about which you can laugh (later)… 

Goal achieved. 

But overall, rope assisted rock climbing has a too high barrier to entry to make it a good option for a casual first date with a non-rock climber.

2. It’s easier to talk during your first date if you go bouldering 

Let’s face it: 

Although it may be a romantic idea to entrust your life in your soon to be partner’s hands, there’s not that much time for talking when one of you is 20 metres up the wall all the time. 

Compare this to bouldering, where the highest you’ll climb is still well within the audible range.

Moreover, in bouldering it’s all about problem solving, and there’s nothing more fun than trying to solve a problem together!

Well… Few things, anyway.

There’s a reason why the bouldering gym is one of the best places to make new friends. There’s a crystal clear conversation starter: the route. 

Effortlessly, you’ll learn to work together as you give each other tips on how to tackle a bouldering problem.

And what if your partner falls?

Well, it’s certainly more romantic to fall into the hands of your crush than to dangle like a lifeless sack of gravel for which he/she is the counter weight! 

Trust me, I’ve been there.

3. Bouldering doesn’t break the bank so much

Clearly, a day at the climbing gym will be a lot more economical than treating your first date to a diner at a fancy restaurant. 

Still, the entry fee to rock climbing gyms are usually a bit higher than those for just the bouldering area. 

Moreover, there’s a lot more equipment that you and or your partner will need to rent (or buy) when you’re going to rock climb as a first date. 

Think, for example, about the climbing harness, the ATC, the climbing shoes, chalk, and of course the fee that you pay to be ascertained that the climbing ropes are in impeccable condition. 

For bouldering, all you need is a pair of climbing shoes (here’s my selection of the best climbing shoes for beginners, if you’re interested) and a bag of chalk

That, again, lowers the barrier to entry of bouldering compared to rock climbing, and makes it so much of a better option for a first date. 

4.  If things don’t work out, it’s easier to split up when bouldering

I get it, you get your hopes up.

Power to you!

But of course it doesn’t hurt to account for the possibility that things don’t work out.

Don’t sweat it!

Because of the casual nature of bouldering, it’s really easy to split up if the date isn’t what you had hoped for. 

While in rock climbing, it takes two to tango, it’s different with bouldering. 

You don’t need a belayer to boulder. Consequently, if you or your date wants to go home early, it’s easy to say you’d like to stay a bit longer to attempt that difficult problem a couple more time. Nobody loses face here.

5. It’s easier to help your partner improve technique when bouldering

Alright, alright, I concede:

Probably nothing beats the cliché of standing behind your date while you showing her how to hold a pool stick. 

But bouldering does come close – at least closer than rock climbing! 

Routes on rock climbing walls are usually set to test your endurance and the easy routes probably require little technique. Just a lack of the paralysing fear of heights and some determination will get you to the top. 

On the contrary, boulder problems usually target a specific technique that you need to be able to perform in order to complete the problem. 

Because you’re not allowed to climb up the wall in a rock climbing gym without the rope, it’s a lot easier to casually demonstrate technique in a bouldering gym and alternate between problems. 

You can easily walk up to the problem, point to the holds she needs to set her foot on, etc. 

All in all, there’s some great opportunities for ´accidental hand touching. Or hand to foot. 

You get the gist. 

If you make sure you’re helpful and not arrogant, this is another leg up bouldering has over rock climbing.

The Bottomline

So there you have it: 

5 reason why bouldering will result in a better first date than rock climbing!

These reasons all ring true for indoor climbing gyms. 

Maybe there’s one exception:

If you want to climb outdoors for your first date, perhaps you could go rock climbing instead of bouldering. 

After all, the objection of not having a belaying certificate obviously falls apart in an outdoor setting. Still, bouldering would be safer.

If you do take out your date on a outdoor climbing trip, just make sure she can actually handle your climbing lingo humor of putting the ´nuts in the crack’ before you actually make the joke. It’s not obvious to every beautiful gumby what these terms mean.  

Climbing Blogger

Zealous boulderer, gear geek and editor. Typically has more flappers than fingers on his hands. Occasionally enjoys the feeling of being scared of heights. Mostly prevents looking down too much, though, and cheers at the invention of climbing chalk.

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