No ropes, no harness—Dr Geetanjali Mamutil of Brace5 Orthodontics in Castle Hill and Kellyville Dental Services, both in NSW, only uses hands and feet when climbing.
“I did a little indoor climbing when I was a kid but didn’t get serious until my final year of university in Adelaide. Some friends introduced me to the Beyond Bouldering gym and I really liked it. When I returned to Sydney, I found a gym called 9 Degrees with a similar set-up. I’ve been climbing there ever since.
“There’s a big difference between rock climbing and bouldering. Rock climbing uses ropes with a partner belaying you to catch your falls and lower you back down. The climbs can be eight to 18 metres high. Bouldering doesn’t use ropes or harnesses. You try to climb up and down to a maximum height of four and a half metres. Crash mats are positioned underneath in case you fall or jump down. Even though climbers rarely get injured, I often end up with minor grazes, cuts and bruises. I have seen others receive more serious injuries but luckily, I’ve avoided these myself.
“I don’t attend standard work-out gyms but I’ve found bouldering to be a good way to keep fit. It’s a fun way to work on strength, balance and flexibility. Anyone can take up bouldering and if they commit to climbing once or twice a week, they can improve quickly.
“While there are occasional bouldering competitions, I’m more interested in challenging myself. Climbs are colour graded by levels of difficulty. Once I’ve completed one grade of difficulty then I move onto a more difficult level.
“Bouldering is also a great way to destress and decompress after work. After sitting in the clinic for hours, concentrating on dentistry, there’s nothing better than moving your muscles around with some gross motor skills. Climbers use brushes to clean holds for a better grip. They look like large toothbrushes which begs the question, what do dentists and climbers have in common? They love a good brush!
“When I was a student, I went climbing regularly but now that I’m working as a dentist, I can only go once a week. I’m hoping to make more time for bouldering in the future. What I really like about it is the mental problem-solving aspect. You can climb one path then look back and try to figure out a better way. Climbers often get together and discuss the best way to approach a climb. How you climb and the path you take is different for every climber. It all depends on your height, build, reach, experience and mental attitude.
“When you climb a wall, you’re problem-solving while straining every muscle in your body. Bouldering is the perfect mix of physical and mental prowess.”