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Bouldering climbs in popularity in Black Hills

Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 8:34 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - We’re so lucky to live in a place as beautiful as the Black Hills. The views are incredible, and there are so many outdoor activities you can take advantage of.

If you are an adrenaline junkie or just interested in testing yourself, you may want to look into the sport of bouldering.

Like you saw today, we fell a lot and that is the whole point of the sport," Mark Rafferty, President of the Black Hills Climbers Coalition. “The whole process of failing forward. So each time, you fail over and over again. And each time you fail, you just get a little bit higher until you ultimately reach the top and it feels so good and it’s addicting.”

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed on small rock formations without the use of ropes or a harness. The only thing that is on the ground to catch you is a small pad.

Yeah, don’t worry. It sounds crazy to me too.

“It is really scary. I am terrified of heights, and I have learned to overcome it, and I think that is the biggest draw to it,” Peyton Hinn, publicist of the group said. “The falling is a lot of self-reliance. That is all you have. It is just you and the rock. There is no one that you can blame. No one that is going to catch you and stuff. It’s just you and so that kinda makes it fun.”

It is important to always have people around you ready to help.

“Yeah, I guess it is all about how to fall,” Rafferty said. “So that is why we have spotters, and sometimes you’ll see Peyton or I hold our hands up like this. The idea is that you aren’t gonna catch somebody. It would be pretty hard to catch somebody that high up, but the idea is, you know, maybe you push them and get them onto the pad. That is the best thing. Landing on the ground is not fun.”

What draws people to the sport is the challenge. Nothing is promised, so if you are able to get up, take credit. That was all on you.

“It feels really good,” Hinn said. “I always like to yell and scream and get really excited because you have put in so much work and dedication to it, and it’s so encouraging to other people to get excited for you and so when you see other people who are stoked for you and you are excited for yourself it just makes you feel good, and it gives you that sense of like ‘yes I can do things if I just put the time and stuff I can accomplish.’”

“Yeah, when I top out on something I have been falling on over and over again, I feel very accomplished,” Rafferty said. “It’s something like everything you fail over and over again, you finally surpass that and reach your goal. It feels really good.”

There is no age limit in bouldering. Anyone can participate.

“You can be two, or you can be 80,” Hinn said. “We just watched a film on a guy who climbs a lot, and he was 94 when he was still going up the rock.”

And when you live in a place as beautiful as South Dakota, why not go outside and try your hand at this unique sport?

“We are pretty special here in the Black Hills,” Rafferty said. “I mean, we are 50 feet off the road, and we were climbing an area that you know a month ago was never climbed before.”

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