Many sports come and go in popularity, but like many devotees, Jack Masel believes that bouldering is here to stay.
Indoor bouldering was originally seen as a niche sport, with most people climbing outdoors, but has since exploded in popularity and will even be a category in the next Olympics.
Avid boulderer Jack Masel says that for many an attraction to bouldering can often stem from a connection to childhood.
Jack says: “…Climbing is one of those activities that you see kids doing all the time… and it always felt to me like a really natural thing to do and as you grow up, you kind of like all these things that you used to do as a kid, but they just fall by the wayside and adult life kind of takes over.”
9 Degrees Alexandria was one of the first climbing gyms open in Sydney, bringing with it a European approach to bouldering gyms. 9 Degrees has grown exponentially, now operating in four locations, the newest being 9 Degrees Waterloo.
Beforehand, climbing gyms were a hardcore training tool for athletes to have variety, or as an intense way to get stronger.
Due to the efforts of climbing gyms like 9 degrees, bouldering has evolved into a sport that is clear and easily accessible.
“We’ve always tried to have a focus on just making it as accessible for everyone as possible.” Says Jack.
“And ideally, it’s so easy to understand and start to a level that’s accessible enough to everyone that you know you can just walk in and get started and progress, without any external help.”
For many, bouldering is seen as an activity that serves as an outlet, distracting people from their day-to-day worries.
Being both a mental and physical challenge, bouldering has attracted a multitude of different people to the sport.
Jack says: “You see people who are very well off coming to the boulder gym, you see people who live out of their vans coming to the boulder gym chatting together about this boulder. If you saw them on the street interacting, you’d do a double check… And to me that’s kind of special.”
Jack Masel predicts that bouldering will continue to become more mainstream, continuing on from its growth in popularity since the opening of 9 Degrees Alexandria 5 years ago.
“I don’t know where it’s going to stop. Honestly, I don’t expect it to slow down in the next five years.”
Photo credit: 9 Degrees Waterloo