Masala Magazine Thailand

Home » Dicover joy and community in the world of bouldering

Dicover joy and community in the world of bouldering

by Nikki Kumar

From the Ground Up!

At the end of a long work week, how you choose to unwind and let loose can vary greatly from person to person. For some, relaxation manifests as a cosy evening at home: pouring a glass of wine, lighting a scented candle, and curling up on the couch to watch some Netflix. For me and an increasing number of people in the community, it’s strapping on my well-worn La Sportivas, filling up my chalk bag, and heading to the bouldering gym where fresh challenges await.

My routine began on 8 December 2022, when my friend Junaid introduced me to Stonegoat. Tucked away in the back of Sukhumvit Soi 69, Stonegoat is the most visited indoor climbing gym in Bangkok, and for good reason. Renovated from a former trampoline park in 2020, the gym boasts top-notch facilities with six distinct walls, each updated on a weekly rotation: Sikhio, Tonsai, Railay, Island, Khon Kaen, and Competition. Each of these walls serve as canvases for Stonegoat’s team of local and international route setters to unleash their creativity. From jugs and slopers, to crimps and pinches, each
wall simulates different terrain you would encounter in the real world, offering a wide range of constantly-evolving challenges. For example, many static routes require surgical precision, where you tip-toe across razor-thin slabs, carefully shift your weight and centre of gravity, and finally maximise your reach to finish. Meanwhile, ‘dynos’ or dynamic movements require a wind-up, speed, momentum, and of course, the strength to catch yourself after you make the leap.

Rock climbing’s popularity in Bangkok, and indeed worldwide, has grown over the last few years. More than just honing your stamina and balance, it can also provide mental benefits – something sorely needed after the isolation and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The sense of accomplishment when you send a difficult route boosts confidence and self-efficacy. Additionally, the demanding nature of the sport requires high levels of concentration, and significantly improves your problem-solving skills. That rush of endorphins as you place both hands on the final hold of a climb is a feeling I constantly return to the gym for. I wish I could bottle the feeling of flashing a new challenging route on my first run, or better yet, finally completing a route on my 15th attempt. As a general rule: the harder the climb, the sweeter the victory will taste once you conquer it.

After two years of weekly climbing, my only regret is that I can’t do it every day. But of course, you shouldn’t just take my word for it. Here are some testimonials from my friends at Stonegoat and fellow members of the community about why they love to climb.


Why do you choose to boulder regularly?
It’s a challenging and fun activity that doubles up as a great way to exercise. You get to work all your muscles, improve flexibility and balance. Bouldering can be an individual or group activity, and you get to choose the level of difficulty yourself. Essentially, no matter what kind of day you’re having – you can always go bouldering!

Can you share any advice or tips for someone new to bouldering based on your own experiences?
The great thing about the bouldering community is that no one judges. The first time I went, experienced climbers were offering tips and tricks to help me succeed. The best advice I can give: learn how to fall (yes, there is a right way to fall!)


Can you share a story about how the bouldering community has supported you in your experience as a climber?
I’ve had countless random people suggest to me how to complete a boulder. What I find interesting is that the advice comes from a huge range of boulderers (beginners and veterans) – and they all have their unique perspectives on how each boulder can be completed.

Why is bouldering your favourite form of exercise?
Rock climbing is a sport that you can truly enjoy either alone or socially. If you don’t have the energy to talk to someone on a particular day, you can simply show up and climb in your own mental bubble. On the flip side, you can climb with multiple people and catch up while climbing. It also really helps with mental health – it’s very hard for your brain to focus on depression when you’re hanging from two fingers, two metres in the air! [Laughs]

Do you prefer indoor or outdoor climbing?
I prefer indoor climbing because it feels much safer, but the upside of outdoor climbing are the views, and the feel of real rock.

Can you share any advice or tips for someone new to bouldering based on your own experiences?
Don’t overdo it. My biggest frustrations with climbing are that it’s very physically demanding and can lead to injuries regularly. So now I shorten my sessions to avoid that. Also, practice falling from a lower height to build your confidence. Learn how to ‘smear’ and shift weight, and you’re good to go!


Why do you climb so regularly?

After I graduated university, it was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there wasn’t much to do. My sister brought me to Stonegoat and I quickly fell in love with climbing. What really healed me was meeting the people in the community, and learning the techniques of climbing through their own individual experiences.

Do you prefer indoor or outdoor climbing?
With indoor climbing, you meet more people, and the air-conditioning keeps you cool. However, outside climbing is nice in the sense that you have a real view to look at. While you are climbing up, you only see the face of the wall. But once you’re up there, there’s a whole landscape for you to take in. I went outdoor climbing the first time in Koh Tao, and it was an incredible experience.

Can you share any tips for someone new to bouldering based on your own experiences?
A lot of my friends tell me the same things, that they don’t want to try it because it looks scary or difficult. They are scared of getting hurt. I always tell them to just come watch other people in the gym first, meet some people, and get a feel for the environment. So far, every friend who I’ve invited here has slowly but surely become indoctrinated into the cult of climbing. [Laughs]

Related Articles