Have you ever done something that was hard, uncomfortable, or even painful in the moment, but rewarding and satisfying after? If you live in Boulder, you probably have. You might even be that person who wakes up before dawn to engage in some epic all-day (and sometimes all-night) climbing, skiing, running, or cycling adventure. You might also be familiar with the hipster term for this Boulder staple – “type 2 fun,” which refers to an activity that is fun only in retrospect, but hateful (and hurtful) while it’s happening.1

But why do Boulderites love type 2 fun so much, and what are the benefits of it? Exert a bit of type 2 fun right now — keep reading and find out!

person in orange jacket and blue pants standing on rocky hill during daytime   

What is Type 2 Fun?

According to Matt Samet’s Climbing Dictionary, “type 2 fun” derived from a “fun scale” coined in 1985 by the Fairbanks Alaska Geology professor Dr. Rainer Newberry during a field geology class as “an ironic way of rating [experiences] in terms of the fun actually had [based on a] fun-to-suffering ratio.”1 Newberry shared the term with student/geologist/climber Peter Haessler who passed it on to climber/writer Kelly Cordes, who used it in a piece submitted to Climbing Magazine, where Matt Same (editor) picked up and included it in the Climbing Dictionary.1  The term is now standard among climbers and Boulderites alike.

According to the Climbing Dictionary, the fun scale consists of three types of fun:1

Type 2 fun is often associated with outdoor adventures, such as the ultra-endurance hiking, climbing, skiing, or running that most Boulderites like to boast about. However, it can also apply to other domains, such as learning a new skill, overcoming a fear, or pursuing a goal.

Benefits Beyond the Bragging Rights 

Type 2 fun has many benefits for your personal growth, mental health, and social connection. Here are some of the reasons why type 2 fun is good for you:


Some research supports the value of type 2 fun. For example, Jonathan A. Kouwenberg, a Commander in the Royal Canadian Navy, emphasized the benefits of type 2 fun for leadership and team building alike, asserting that it builds the cohesiveness and resilience of a leader and a team and challenges both to learn from adversity.2 He emphasized the ability of type 2 fun to guide a team or individual into a situation that “is beyond what beneficially challenges them,” and at the same time engages an individual or team “in an effort that allows for feedback, learning, and growth.”2

grayscale photo of topless man with tattoo on his back man sitting on cliff grayscale photo of topless man with tattoo on his back

How to Find Type 2 Fun in Your Life?

So how can you find type 2 fun in your life? Here are some tips:

Breaking Down Type 2 Fun in Boulder

A few examples local to Boulder (but easily adaptable for non-Boulder readers) include:

Type 2 fun is not for everyone, and it is not the only type of fun that you should have. But if you are looking for a way to spice up your life, challenge yourself, and grow as a person, then type 2 fun might be just what you need. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try something new, hard, or scary, and see what type 2 fun can do for you. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it – later :).


  1. Samet M. The Climbing Dictionary: Mountaineering Slang, Terms, Neologisms & Lingo: An Illustrated Reference.The Mountaineers Books; 2011.
  2. Kouwenberg JA. Authenticity, Adversity and Accountability in the Context of Uniformed Leadership. The Journal of Intelligence, Conflict, and Warfare. 2022;4(3):122-127.

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