Hi Ard,

I’m writing an article for Climbing magazine on parkour, and a comment you made on your Links page interested me. For the Urban Freeflow link, you mentioned that many climbers go from bouldering to buildering to parkour. That would be great for my article if it were so, but of the 15 or so traceurs I talked to at a Colorado Parkour class (solely anecdotal evidence, of course), only 1 had a climbing background. What has your experience been with regards to this? And what do you think attracts climbers to parkour?

Thanks for your help and for your entertaining website,

Kristin Bjornsen

It’s been my experience that progression from climbing to bouldering to buildering to parkour holds true with most of my friends, however I have a hunch that my friends are quite a bit older than the traceurs you met at the Colorado parkour class.

Most of the people I practice parkour with these days are pushing thirty years old. I know for myself, as a teenager in the early 90s, I was looking for something to keep me entertained and to give me that much needed adrenaline dose. Out of the aforementioned four disciplines, climbing was the only thing in the mainstream at the time.

As I got more involved in climbing I, like most people, learned to appreciate the joy of movement just as much as thrill of being run-out or exposed, and conveniently this realization coincided with the popularity boom in bouldering. From bouldering, buildering is just an extension of that love of movement – birthing in me during that fanatical phase in climbing where everything must be climbed, all the time.

As an aside, for me buildering became more enjoyable than rock-climbing. This is where I differ from most, as most climbers prefer the varied and natural setting of rock-climbing to the urban setting of buildering. To each his own.

And finally, when parkour came to light in the last couple years, it seemed like this was the sport that we’d all been training for. Parkour is like buildering in three dimensions. It’s the love of movement that we’ve all grown to appreciate through climbing, shot out of a cannon. In parkour everything is our canvas, every park bench, every staircase, every handrail, every hanging tree branch. We are no longer limited to established climbs (the bounds of the rock climber), or even climbing at all (the bounds of the boulderer and builderer). Now everything is a route. Everything is an obstacle to move over, and to develop our skills on. Parkour is just as much of a challenge as rock climbing, every bit as satisfying, and much more limitless.

So to answer your question in a sound-byte: I believe it’s the self-motivating, self-expressing, and self-fulfilling nature of parkour, combined with the love of movement that attracts rock climbers to parkour.

As for the lack of climbing background with the Colorado Parkour class, well I suspect that they are a slightly younger crowd. Still in their teens, they are looking for that adrenaline dose that I too looked for, and given that parkour is now a well-known activity, they are skipping turkey and heading straight for the gravy.