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Bouldering in Utrecht in Corona times

Last updated 4 weeks ago by Michael Darmanin

Bouldering is growing in popularity. However, just as most things, it was affected by the corona crisis. Now that things are opening up again, has the bouldering scene returned back to normal?

Netherland’s bouldering community froze

In the last few decades, bouldering has gained more and more traction in the Netherlands. For those who are not familiar with it, bouldering is a specific type of rock climbing, focused on smaller rock formations (mostly less than 6 meters). One distinctive feature of bouldering is that no ropes or harnesses are used by climbers. However, most of the times mattresses are used around the boulders to prevent fall-related injuries.

Although renowned for its rather flat landscape, The Netherlands stands out in the rock climbing world. With at least 24 bouldering gyms scattered across 17 cities, The Netherlands also houses the world’s tallest freestanding climbing wall. The Excalibur, located in Groningen, towers above the Dutch plains at 37 meters, making for an impressive sight.

As you might expect, all bouldering gyms were closed due to the pandemic. Climbers were left practicing in their own homes or, for the lucky ones, in some outdoor locations. 

No to safety harness, yes to safety corona measures

Thankfully, as restrictions were eased, bouldering gyms could open again. We visited Boulderhal Energiehaven to understand how the rock climbing scene has changed during the pandemic.

Boulderhal Energiehaven, Utrecht

Right as you approach the hall, something stands out immediately: a couple of new, outdoor walls were installed. Together with the hand sanitizer dispensers, plastic screens at the counters, and an increased cleaning frequency, these are only some of the measures taken to protect both staff and clients from the virus. Furthermore, walking routes were designed using markings on the floor to minimize unnecessary contact between climbers. Similarly, stickers everywhere are useful reminders of the 1.5 meters distance rule. Impressively, air circulation was boosted in the hall by creating new openings in the walls.

More distance, same warmth

All these measures worked perfectly. Since the opening, climbers’ response was very positive. The limit of 100 clients is reached almost every evening, and people seem eager to hang out at the bar after a climbing session, of course, while respecting the safe 1.5 meters distance. To maintain a safe environment, a reservation is needed if you plan to boulder on weekday evenings. 

The inclusive and open feel of the community make climbers of all ages and levels feel welcome. Although not as physically close as before, people are still united by their love for bouldering.

English speaking friendly

All staff members speak English, and the social media platforms of Energiehaven are all in English as well, so if Dutch isn’t your forte, there’s no need to worry!  

Bouldering scene is open and waiting for you

So if you want to get started with a new sport or if you are eager to put your climbing shoes back on, you know where to go. Although still carrying some marks from the pandemic, the bouldering scene is open again!

Silviu Alexandru Costea
Silviu Alexandru Costea
Silviu A. Costea is a psychology student with a deep appreciation for beauty, may it be in art, science, nature, or anywhere else. With his passion for writing and experience as an international student, he is dedicated to providing quality content on various topics. He is a keen listener and he is convinced that everyone has a story worth sharing.


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