For the uninitiated you might be wondering how to get into bouldering, well according to René Grincourt all you need is: “a pair of climbing shoes, some chalk, and maybe some hip-hop.”
The Parisian founder of Karma8a, a brand and collective pushing to grow the sport and its community, is exaggerating slightly — a crash matt is also advised. However, other than that you really are ready to go.
The sport is a form of free climbing that can be done on small rock formations or artificial rock walls and sets itself apart from rock climbing by its lack of equipment. It is rock climbing in one of its purest, most stripped-back forms, being done without protective gear, ropes, or harnesses.
For Grincourt, who has always been into extreme sports, it is not just the precarious nature of the sport that keeps him coming back but the community around it. It’s something that he and his crew are building. “Karm8a aims to push forward the new generation of boulderers through a community-driven approach,” he explains. “where the focus is on the artistic and creative side of climbing, rather than on the performance or the commercial aspect of the sport.”
Included in that community is the group of boulderers from Berlin shown in this article wearing our upcoming collaboration with the group. Comprised of Kim Dewolff, Elias Arragada K., and Lorenz Ulmer, they are part of the global crew that Karma8a is forming and that anyone is welcome to join.
Having not been thrown in the limelight as aggressively as other sports, bouldering remains something of a niche interest and that allows it to retain an underground community feeling which Grincourt is harnessing to produce a family of like-minded creatives.
The artistic director, graphic designer, and photographer compares the current scene to early skateboarding culture and his collective present a lifestyle that, like with skating, goes far beyond the act of performing the sport. Through its DIY climbing videos shot on VHS, love of sticker bombing, and graphic streetwear collections, the group behaves more like an 80s skate crew in California than what you might expect from a bouldering collective.
“Bouldering is for the community a way of life rather than just a sport, and Karma8a wants to bring that community to life in an authentic and disruptive way. It’s about finding a balance between training hard and spending the night drinking beers with friends,”Grincourt explains.