Bouldering With a Pro Climber Owner in California – Gym of the Week

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The training area at Carlo Traversi's gym
The elite training area at The Boulder Field, the brainchild of pro climber Carlo Traversi. (All images courtesy of The Boulder Field)

GYM: The Boulder Field
LOCATION: Sacramento, California
OPEN YEAR: 2018
SQFT OF CLIMBING: 10,000
WHY WE’D VISIT: Classic Boulder Problems, Temple Coffee, Competition Scene
WHO WE SPOKE TO: Carlo Traversi, Owner and Founder

Excellence (down to every cup of coffee)

Located in Sacramento, California, The Boulder Field is a community-oriented bouldering gym founded in 2018 by professional climber Carlo Traversi. Traversi’s expertise provides the climber with unique features conceived by an individual with years of experience in routesetting, coaching, and climbing all over the world. The Boulder Field features an elite training area with attention to detail on parts big and small, like a spray wall based on the legendary CATS gym in Boulder, CO, and crash pad couches throughout the facility.

Excellence is also emphasized in the gym’s ongoing operations, like while planning events, setting boulder problems, or even collaborating with local companies to fuel the gym’s café.

“We partnered with a top local coffee brand called Temple and they’re among some of the best roasters in the country and have very, very high standards for espresso drinks. We continue to strive for having the best possible café, not just the best café in a climbing gym,” Traversi explained. The Boulder Field takes their coffee loving a step further by hosting latte art competitions, and requiring barista training for front desk staff.

Temple coffee at The Boulder Field
Grabbing that perfect cup of Temple coffee at The Boulder Field.

Making every problem a classic

Traversi’s setting experience of nearly 20 years contributes to his requirement of quality routesetting in the gym. He chose to employ several high-level routesetters with national and world competition setting experience, like Dave Wetmore and Jimmy Webb. Wetmore, in particular―who has set at USAC nationals, IFSC World Cups, and the Dark Horse Series on the East Coast for 10 years―moved across the country to head up the gym’s routesetting.

 

This drive for routesetting excellence creates high expectations for each and every problem. Part of that has been returning to the basics as well, like the idea that a boulder problem is about just that: solving a problem with your body, and not necessarily only getting to the top.

“A lot of times we’ll set a problem and during forerunning we’ll realize that it just doesn’t quite fit the quality that we’re looking for,” said Traversi. “At some point it feels like you’re forcing it and it’s better to just kind of strip it and start over fresh. We kind of always want to leave the wall with every problem being a classic to some degree… nothing’s just there for filler.”

Bouldering at TBF in California
Climbing another classic problem at The Boulder Field.

Experimenting with comp formats

The Boulder Field Masters is a unique bouldering competition series influenced by Traversi’s insider knowledge of comp climbing. Having years of competition experience enabled Traversi to anticipate what a professional climber would want, what would attract different climbers, and how a competition could differ from the norm.

This series was held in 2019 and had categories for pro and novice climbers alike. Three competitions spanned several months: The Greatest Flasher, The Force Majeure and The Modern Climber. The Greatest Flasher, described by Traversi as “really high stress, in a good way,” was just what it sounds like: there were 20 boulders that had to be flashed to count for the competitor’s score.

Meagan Martin bouldering
Meagan Martin, one of the elite athletes who competed at TBF Masters.

The Force Majeure consisted of ten problems, unlimited attempts, and collaboration between teammates. But there was a catch—the first ascensionist of the problem received 1000 points, the second 750, and the third 600, with less points awarded for each top. The setting for this event cut out the common competition moves often seen today and focused on a whole lot of power.

The third and final competition in the series was The Modern Climber, with mainly “double-clutch, run-and-jump” problems. This comp was a video-game-style format, where the climber could only advance to the next problem after completing the problem prior; the first climber to top the 5th problem won in this complex race.

“Not a lot of pro comps come through this part of California and it was really cool. Our community was just really stoked to be able to come watch people that flew in. Pro climbers came to test themselves on some hard boulders.” Some pros spotted at the competitions were recent Olympian Colin Duffy, Meagan Martin, Allison Vest and Daniel Woods.

Carlo Traversi's bouldering gym in California
A busy day at The Boulder Field.

What a successful gym looks like to Carlo

“Ultimately, we want to grow the climbing community, but in a way where everyone is educated on all nuances of it and just feels welcomed into the community,” said Traversi. “So no matter where you’re from, what background you’re from, you can come in here and feel like you’re welcomed and a part of this really cool sport…A goal is to be a community hub that’s welcoming and positive for everybody here.”