One could call it literal rock climbing — it involves climbing actual rocks.
Just a few millennia after the giant boulders were dropped in Ibex Valley by glaciers, climbers will be scaling them August 3 in the fifth annual Ibex Valley Bouldering Festival.
“It’s not rock climbing, bouldering is a separate activity,” said Eric Allen, the chief coordinator of the event.
“In rock climbing they use ropes and anchors. In bouldering it’s kind of freestyle; there’s no ropes, no harnesses, no anchors, nothing but a crash pad and a pair of shoes.
“It’s like playing chess with your body,” said Allen. “A boulder problem is not something that is obvious, it’s something that you have to figure out. So you have to put a lot of thought into every single move.
“A typical boulder problem is something someone has worked on for months, if not years. It’s like a puzzle for your body instead of your mind.”
Although the idea of climbing big rocks may seem tame to some, the size of boulder and the level of difficulty can vary tremendously.
“The limit of size is of course expandable to whatever you feel like you won’t die from if you fall off,” said Allen.
Last year more than 100 people attended the event, which also features live music, juggling and slacklining, a relative of tightrope walking done on a loosely suspended line.
“It’s a family event, you see,” said Ying Allen, one of the co-ordinators. “We have grandparents, we have children, young people. They all came.”
“It’s a nice healthy, outdoor activity that doesn’t cost a lot of money, that you don’t need any gear for,” added Eric Allen, who’s been bouldering since 1972. “And it’s lots of fun,”
Although there are climbing events throughout Canada, this may be the only one dedicated exclusively to bouldering.
“I don’t know that there’s any specific bouldering festival similar to ours that goes on in Canada,” said Allen. “I’m sure we’re not totally unique.”
However, a similar event does exist in Costa Rica, put on every January by the Allens.
“It’s basically an outgrowth of the success of the festival here,” said Allen. “Since there’s a lot of good rock there, we thought we’d try it there as well.
“This will be our second year there in Costa Rica.”
The Ibex Valley festival starts at 9 a.m. and costs $10 for adults and $5 for children. More information can be found at yukonbouldering.blogspot.com.