Bouldering at The Rock Oasis for the First Time
If you’re looking to stay active, the best advice I can give is to find an activity that you enjoy doing. There’s nothing more counterproductive, or more grueling, than waking up at 6 a.m. to go on a run that you’ll then decide to never do again. Exercise is not a one-size-fits-all formula. You’ve got to experiment to find what works for you.
I first started rock climbing in university. The Pan Am Centre in Scarborough offers discounts to students for use of their programs and facilities. I’ve tried kick-boxing and swimming, and liked both well enough. But rock climbing was perfect for me, as it’s a sport that doesn’t ask too much of you all at once. You can set your own pace, and still feel satisfyingly sore the next day.
Unfortunately, it had been a while since I last rock climbed, as it can be challenging finding someone to belay (hold your rope) for you. So, I decided to try my hand at bouldering, which can be done with friends or in solitude.
Unlike top rope climbing, bouldering doesn’t require any fancy equipment apart from yourself. If you’ve never bouldered, or even rock climbed before, there’s no need to worry. Bouldering is a very adjustable sport, where people of all skill levels can participate.
I visited The Rock Oasis for the first time last week. Situated near Dundas and Carlaw, the place is not too far south of Pape station. I signed a waiver online the night before and was good to go.
When you first enter the building and take the elevator up to the second floor, the twisting, warehouse-like corridors might throw you off. But as long as you follow the signs, you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by colourful, jutting structures on all sides.
Once you enter The Rock Oasis, head straight for the front desk to get started. Pay the entrance fee, lock away your belongings, and an employee will give you the rundown on how things work. You’ll soon find out that the rules are quite simple to follow: be aware of your surroundings, and be careful. The protruding, brightly-coloured rocks of varying shapes and sizes create a path for you to follow to the top. The idea is that you can only use holds of the same colour as you climb. It’s almost like a game.
Each climb is colour-coded, with a “level” assigned to each route, starting with V0 (best for beginners), all the way to V11 (the routes with the highest difficulty).
I like bouldering because of how laid-back it is. There’s no rush, no competition. No one to beat but yourself. If you fail to complete a route, you get the determination to make it next time. You find yourself taking a step back, analyzing the route in your head, calculating the steps you should make. How to twist your body, where to place your feet. It’s as much a sport of skill and technique as it is a sport of pure strength. In fact, I’d argue that skill matters more.
Bouldering was quick to pick up, even for a beginner like me. Once you get the hang of things there’s nothing else to do besides have fun. Nothing but take a good gauge of the path, place your hands on the first holds, and climb.