Boulder climbing grows in popularity in Hawaii

Photo provided by Ryan Moss


Boulder climbing or “bouldering” is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in Hawaii.

“It’s more than a community. It’s a sport, a lifestyle, yeah so ‘bouldering’ has got really big on the island. The past five years, it’s just blown up,” said Justin Ridgely of Volcanic Climbing and Fitness.

It offers those with will, determination and strength the opportunity to hold onto new memories.

“It’s really overcoming obstacles and working out in a way that’s fun,” said climber Louis Solywoda. “You’re not just lifting a piece of metal up off from the ground and it’s good for your body and good for your mind.”

“The sport is very easily accessible, so either in the gym or going out to boulders,” Ridgely said.

Climbers are always advised to start on indoor walls, like those at Volcanic Climbing and Fitness, before attempting anything outdoors.

“We set up climbs similar to what might be outdoors,” Ridgely said. “We try to isolate movements and things like that and so you can come in and work them.”

“It does mentally and physically challenge you. That’s the motivation in that for me,” said climber Kahealani Alapai. “Then when you start seeing the results as far as your strengths and your physical features, you just don’t want to give up. You just want to keep going.”

“It’s just as much as coming here and having great surfing come here and have great climbing,” Ridgely said.

But is boulder climbing in Hawaii legal?

In a statement, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said, “There are no DLNR lands that are promoted or authorized for this activity. However, it is not a violation to climb on rocks on DLNR land. DLNR staff has no training in managing this activity or the funding to manage this activity.”

“We always ask people to tread lightly, treat the land with respect,” Ridgely said. “We tend to go a lot more in the private areas and make agreements with landowners.”

Whether it’s at the gym or on boulders across Hawaii, safety is always a priority.

“When we go outdoors, we carry as many pads suitable for the landing,” Ridgely said. “I normally try and go little bit more overboard just in case.”

Boulder climbing may not be for everyone, but it’s a sport that’s reaching new heights in Hawaii.

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