Today I took the morning off to go down to Bloc Shop, a bouldering gym in the south of Montreal. It’s inside an unprepossessing brown brick building, which I assume was a warehouse or an industrial unit before they put up a lot of overhanging walls with bolt-ons.
I feel I’m starting to understand the difference in route-setting now between my local gym, Boulder Movement, and elsewhere. Apart from the scale in America being V0-V1-… V10, with much coarser graduations than the 30 different grades in Singapore, the sizes are quite different. Perhaps because there’s more space, the routes use a lot more distance, but the holds are also a lot larger. So some of the intricate stuff with tiny grips I don’t get in Canada, but likewise the big powerful moves with enormous holds and steep overhangs are missing.
There’s also so much chalk at Bloc Shop. Spread around the space are large boxes full of loose chalk for you to dip your hands into. There was so much chalk that, even without applying any, after five minutes of climbing my palms were totally white. I wonder if that was why everything was more slippery than I’m used to.
I think I’ve progressed. When I was in Dog patch in March, even V1 was 50-50: today I managed all but one of the V1s (a vicious roof section I couldn’t get round) and I even got half way up a V2. Or perhaps the routesetters were kinder in Quebec than California.
After, I finished with a coffee and some cake (all that space means it’s easy to fit a espresso machine and a bar in without compromising on the climbing) and then headed back, not hating my tight shoes too much. A victory of sorts, perhaps?