Which do you prefer, short powerful bouldering or long sustained savvy lead climbing? It’s a question some of us might have been asked more than a couple of times and it’s probably one you’ve used yourself as kindle for conversation with climbers you’ve just met. It’s not one of those ranked high in the list of opening gambits you dish out after short introductions though. Might be best reserved after a few exchanges in belays or after a few times switching roles as spotter and climber.
It can be used whether you guys are lead climbing or bouldering. It’s up to you how to mash it up. You can also throw in leading questions too. You can ask, “Do you also lead?” or “Do you like bouldering too?” There are many permutations to this line of questioning. But fear not because there is only a limited number of ways that it can be answered. When asked for a preference there can only be: “I prefer bouldering,” “I prefer lead,” or “I like both.” To which you can spin off your own preference or just ask the old reliable “why” and just follow through.
It takes a bit of sensitivity to pull it off, however. You have to think about the timing, the place, the mood, or the grade of the sport route or the boulder problem. Remember the point of the question is to give a warm welcoming vibe but not too much that you sound like forcing the issue or being creepy.
So, what do you prefer, bouldering or lead climbing? I like both. I wish I could have done more bouldering though during the last trip to the north. There’s simply too much still waiting to be discovered in Ambongdolan and Camp 3 along Kennon Road. In the meantime there are just photos to remember the place by. At the same time I’m looking forward to tons of lead climbing in the following days.